WASHINGTON (AP) – Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, angrily accused a senator on Tuesday of making false accusations which led to threats against him – all to lift political funds.
Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has repeatedly said that Fauci is lying about the pandemic, and in a hearing on Tuesday he also claimed he tried to ‘remove’ some scientists who disagreed with him.
Paul and other conservative critics have focused their anger over the way the pandemic is being handled on Fauci, the head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health who is also the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden. Fauci has needed increased security since 2020 due to threats and harassment against him and his family.
On Tuesday, Fauci expressed his frustration that at this point in the pandemic, the senator “is still accusing me of things that are completely wrong” and “stoking the crazy out there.”
He highlighted the arrest last month of a Californian who was pulled over for speeding in Iowa and told a sheriff’s deputy he was on his way to the nation’s capital to kill a list of people in power – including Fauci. Court documents show the man, Kuachua Brillion Xiong of Sacramento, had an AR-15 style rifle, ammunition and a bulletproof vest in the car.
Fauci said Paul’s website had a “late Dr. Fauci” page that includes a call for political contributions ranging from $ 5 to $ 100.
“You are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain,” he said.
The feud has eclipsed a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing designed to examine whether policy changes are needed as the United States battles the highly contagious variant of the omicron.
Among the main complaints from Republicans and Democrats is the continued lack of testing to make it easier for people to find out if they have COVID-19 so they can stay home and not spread it.
“I’m just telling all of you right now, the tests are broken,” said exasperated Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, a ranking member of the committee.
Yet Burr and several other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle also thanked Fauci for his work in fighting the pandemic.
But later in Tuesday’s hearing, Fauci lost his temper when Senator Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, accused him of hiding required financial disclosure forms from public officials.
“You are so misinformed that it is extraordinary,” replied Fauci, saying these documents are available to the public on request. At the end of the exchange, Fauci could be heard muttering off camera, “What a jerk.”
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