America’s top Covid adviser Anthony Fauci has been caught dissing a senator on a hot mic moments after a bad-tempered exchange.
One of the US government’s most senior Covid advisers, Dr Anthony Fauci, repeatedly lashed out at Republican senators during a bad-tempered Senate hearing on Tuesday, local time, and was overheard calling one of them a “moron” on a hot mic.
Dr Fauci and Republican Senator Rand Paul, from Kentucky, have clashed multiple times during Senate hearings in recent months and engaged in yet another verbal throwdown before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, The New York Post reports.
At one point, Dr Fauci accused Dr Paul of claiming he was “responsible for the death of four to five million people, which is really irresponsible”.
“What happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue,” the top health official said, “is 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.”
Dr Fauci then referenced the arrest last month of 25-year-old Kuachua Brillion Xiong, of California, who was found to have a “hit list” with Dr Fauci’s name on it when he was pulled over on a highway in Iowa.
“They found in his car an AR-15 and multiple magazines of ammunition,” Dr Fauci said, “because he thinks that maybe I’m killing people”.
Dr Fauci has become a widely reviled figure on the American right for his stance on Covid issues, including multiple occasions where he criticised or contradicted former president Donald Trump.
“So I asked myself, ‘Why would a senator want to do this?’ So [I] go to [the] Rand Paul website,” he continued, brandishing a sheaf of computer printouts, “and you see ‘Fire Dr. Fauci,’ with a little box that says ‘Contribute here.’ And you can do $5, $10, $20, $100.
“You are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain.”
“You have politically attacked your colleagues, and in a politically reprehensible way –” Dr Paul interjected, before committee chairman Patty Murray, a Democrat, cut the exchange short.
Earlier in their exchange, Dr Paul pressed Dr Fauci on why he would “claim unilaterally” that any criticism of him was a “criticism of science itself”, calling the idea “quite dangerous.”
“A planner who believes he is the science leads to an arrogance that justifies in his mind using government resources to smear and to destroy the reputations of other scientists who disagree with them,” said Dr Paul, who accused Dr Fauci and then-National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins of unfairly maligning the authors of the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration in late 2020.
“This is not only antithetical to the scientific method, it’s cheap politics and it’s reprehensible,” Dr Paul said. “Dr Fauci, do you really think it’s appropriate to use your $420,000 salary to attack scientists that disagree with you?”
“No, I think in usual fashion, Senator, you are distorting everything about me,” Dr Fauci pushed back.
“Senator, we are here at a committee to look at a virus now that has killed almost 900,000 people,” Dr Fauci told Dr Paul later in the hearing.
“And the purpose of the committee was to try and get things out how we can help to get the American public.
“And you keep coming back to personal attacks on me that have absolutely no relevance to reality.”
The Senator then asked Dr Fauci if he thought the US response to the pandemic amounted to a “great success”.
“More people have died now under President Biden than did under President Trump,” Dr Paul said. “You are the one responsible, you are the architect — you are the lead architect for the response from the government. And now 800,000 people have died. Do you think it’s a winning success, what you’ve advocated for government?”
“Senator, first of all, if you look at everything I said, you accuse me of, in a monolithic way, telling people what they need to do,” Dr Fauci began.
“Everything that I’ve said — [which] has been in support of the CDC guidelines — wear a mask, get boosted.
“And you’ve made it coercive and done by mandate,” Dr Paul jumped in. “You’ve advocated your infallible opinion by dictated by law.”
A couple of hours later, Senator Roger Marshall — himself a medical doctor — told Dr Fauci: “You have an annual salary in 2020 that was $US434,000.
“You oversee over $US5 billion in federal research grants. As the highest paid employee in the entire federal government, yes or no: would you be willing to submit to Congress and the public a financial disclosure that includes your past and current investments?”
“I don’t understand why you’re asking me that question,” Dr Fauci answered.
“My financial disclosure is public knowledge and has been so for the last 37 years or so.”
Dr Marshall had a printed poster positioned behind him with Dr Fauci’s salary and retorted: “The big tech giants are doing an incredible job of keeping it from being public. We’ll continue to look for it. Where would we find it?”
“All you have to do is ask for it,” Dr Fauci fumed. “You’re so misinformed, it’s extraordinary.”
Marshall pressed further, telling Dr Fauci “this is a huge issue.”
“Wouldn’t you agree with me that you have a — you see things before members of Congress would see them, so that there’s an air of appearance that maybe some shenanigans are going on?” Dr Marshall said.
“Senator, what are you talking about? My financial disclosures are public knowledge and have been so. You are getting amazingly wrong information. What are you talking about?” Dr Fauci exclaimed.
“We cannot find them. Our office cannot find them. Where would they be if they are public knowledge?” Dr Marshall asked.
“It is totally accessible to you if you want it,” Dr Fauci said.
“For the public? Is it accessible to the public?” Dr Marshall continued.
“To the public, to the public!” Dr Fauci insisted.
“Great, we look forward to reviewing it,” Dr Marshall said.
As the exchange ended, Dr Fauci was captured on a hot mic.
“What a moron!” he muttered. “Jesus Christ!”
A spokesman for Dr Fauci was unable to immediately point The Post to the financial disclosures that Dr Fauci said were public. Center for Public Integrity reporter Liz Essley Whyte tweeted a copy of a disclosure form signed by Dr Fauci in April 2020, but that document had extensive redactions.
“I understand that Anthony Fauci had a very frustrating day: having a bombshell report show he in fact did award US tax dollars for gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and being called out about his personal financial disclosure during the Covid pandemic NOT being publicly available must be very frustrating,” Dr Marshall said in a statement.