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Anthony Fauci

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director and White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci shows a screen grab of a campaign website while answering questions from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2022. (Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

Fauci Accuses Rand Paul of Kindling 'The Crazies' During Heated Exchange

"We are here at a committee to look at a virus now that has killed nearly 900,000 people... And you keep coming back to personal attacks on me."

Brett Wilkins

As U.S. Covid-19 cases surge amid an unprecedented wave of Omicron variant infections, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday parried a salvo of attacks by Republican senators, led by Rand Paul, who object to his expert-endorsed countermeasures against the unrelenting pandemic.

"I have... threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me."

During a Senate hearing, Paul (Ky.) accused Fauci—who is also the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden—of using his "$420,000 salary to attack scientists that disagree" with him.

Fauci retorted: "In usual fashion, senator, you are distorting everything about me. It's the same thing every year... You keep distorting the truth."

"We are here at a committee to look at a virus now that has killed nearly 900,000 people," he continued. "And the purpose of the committee was to try to get things out, how we can help the American public. And you keep coming back to personal attacks on me."

Addressing the panel, Fauci said, "What happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue is that all of a sudden that kindles the crazies out there and I have... threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me."

Holding up a printed screenshot of a Paul campaign fundraising email calling for Fauci's termination, the doctor noted the arrest in Iowa last month of a man who was driving from California to Washington, D.C. with a "hit list" and the alleged intent to assassinate him, Biden, and other government officials.

"The police asked him where he was going and he was going to Washington, D.C. to kill Dr. Fauci," he said. "They found in his car an AR-15 and multiple magazines of ammunition because he thinks that maybe I'm killing people."

Another Republican senator, Roger Marshall of Kansas, asked Fauci about emails pertaining to purportedly top-secret—yet unverified—documents leaked by the far-right, conspiracy theory-prone group Project Veritas claiming to link the NIAID chief with the creation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 in a Wuhan, China laboratory. Far-right figures including U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and commentator Candace Owens have amplified the unsubstantiated claim.

"It really pains me to have to just point out to the American public how absolutely incorrect you are," Fauci told Marshall. "Once again, you are completely and unequivocally incorrect."

Fauci has fended off attacks by Paul and other congressional Republicans over the government's Covid-19 response in previous hearings. Their latest exchange comes amid a massive surge in coronavirus cases driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant.

According to Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center, nearly 5.5 million people worldwide—including more than 840,000 in the U.S.—have died during the two-year pandemic.

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