U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci have frequently butted heads over their respective responses to the evidence surrounding COVID-19.
Things got heated again on Tuesday when Paul accused Fauci of being the “chief architect” behind the government’s failed response to the pandemic.
“It is cheap politics and it is reprehensible”
In response, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director accused the senator of inspiring personal threats against him and his family.
The confrontation came during a Senate hearing and began when Paul called out Fauci for essentially declaring himself the official voice of the scientific community, thus making him immune to criticism.
“The idea that a government official like yourself would claim unilaterally to represent science and that any criticism of you would be considered a criticism of science itself is quite dangerous,” the Kentucky Republican said. “It is cheap politics and it is reprehensible.”
Paul went on to depict the high-paid public health official as complicit in the federal government’s botched response to COVID-19, insisting: “You are the lead architect for the response, and now 800,000 people have died.”
“That kindles the crazies out there”
Much of the senator’s questioning centered on email exchanges involving Fauci and other officials apparently discussing in politicized terms the need for a “quick and devastating takedown” of three “fringe” scientists.
The targeted scientists, however, were highly esteemed epidemiologists who had expressed opinions that differed from Fauci’s prescription of lockdowns and harsh mitigation measures.
For Fauci’s part, he generally declined to directly answer Paul’s questions, opting instead to adopt an argumentative tone. At one point, the doctor accused Paul of “distorting” reality and launching “personal attacks” on him “that have absolutely no relevance” to the topic of discussion.
“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,” Fauci lamented.
The committee chair ultimately had to step in to break up the back-and-forth, moving the hearing along to other senators waiting to ask questions of their own.