Senate hearing on pandemic gets testy: 'What a moron'

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president, testifies Tuesday before a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to COVID-19 and new emerging variants.

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, angrily accused a senator Tuesday of making false accusations that are leading to threats against him - all to raise political cash.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has repeatedly said Fauci lies about the pandemic and in a hearing Tuesday also claimed that he tried to “take down” some scientists who disagreed with him.

Paul and other conservative critics have focused their ire at how the pandemic is being handled on Fauci, the National Institutes of Health infectious disease chief who also is President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser. Fauci has needed increased security since 2020 because of threats and harassment against him and his family.

Tuesday, Fauci expressed frustration that this far into the pandemic the senator still “accuses me of things that are completely untrue” and “kindles the crazies out there.”

He pointed to the arrest last month of a California man who was stopped for speeding in Iowa and told a sheriff’s deputy he was on the 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 body armor in the car.

Fauci said Paul’s website has a “fire Dr. Fauci” page and includes a call for political contributions ranging from $5 to $100.

He accused Paul of using the pandemic "for your political gain,” he said.

The feud overshadowed a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee designed to examine if policy changes are needed while the U.S. is battling the hugely contagious omicron variant.

Among the chief complaints of Republicans and Democrats alike is a continuing lack of tests to make it easier for people to tell if they have COVID-19 so they can stay home and not spread it.

“I just say to all of you right now, testing’s broken,” said an exasperated Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, the committee’s ranking member.

Still, Burr and several other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle also thanked Fauci for his work to fight the pandemic.

But later in Tuesday’s hearing, Fauci lost his temper when Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, accused him of hiding financial disclosure forms required of public officials.

“You’re so misinformed that it’s extraordinary,” Fauci responded, saying those documents are publicly available upon request. As the exchange ended, Fauci could be heard muttering off-camera, “What a moron.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

(10) comments

Emily Hartigan

Dr. Fauci is an island of expertise in a roiling sea of trash.

Lynn k Allen

It is insane that any government official is not in jail for inciting, defaming, and wilfully endangering anyone. Ran Paul has and continues to incite people to violence with impunity. Republicans have gone from rudely & consistently overtaking to unveiled threats to ANYONE with no consequences. Rand Paul needs to be prosecuted for his actions as all other people threatening violence. Enforce laws against violence provokes. Not prosecuting them is allowing this! No more! Prisecutr Republican hate speech!

Ryan Varela

Pure projection. What evidence do you have that's he incited any sort of violence ? Perhaps your double masks are cutting off the circulation to your brain. As I recall, it was Sen Paul that was assaulted outside his home by a left wing nut job, it was Sen Paul and his wife that were assaulted outside the White House by left wing nut jobs. How is asking the supposed covid whisperer, Fauci hard questions, threatening violence exactly ? Or do you just spout that nonsense whenever your saint Fauci gets exposed ?

susan raterman

corect!

Ryan Varela

The projection is astounding. What violence is he inciting ? Asking the supposed covid whisperer Fauci hard questions is inciting violence now? As i recall it was Sen Paul that was assaulted outside his home by a left wing nut job, it was Sen Paul and his wife that were assaulted and chased outside the White House by left wing nut jobs. Is this what you do? Call for everyone you disagree with to be prosecuted?

Chris Mechels

Fauci is by no means "innocent", as he, with others, declared Against Masks for the public early on, when they knew better. He's a political player, and must accept political risks. He would be "above" criticism, while playing politics. He should stop whining.

Russell Scanlon

The GOP has become the card carrying, flag waving, party of Stupid. Was not always so.

Ryan Varela

Its exactly this condescending, indignant, ignorance that's going to cost you little progressives in Nov. Are your lib tears salty Russ?

Ann Maes

I hope someone is taking notes on just how much this fiasco is costing taxpayers.

Barry Rabkin

I assume you mean the 'fiasco' of ignorant people believing that Covid-19 is not real or is the same as the seasonal flu. If so, then please go to the cemeteries and start digging up people who either died from COVID-19 or died from the virus accelerating their underlying conditions to die sooner than they would have.

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