House Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy is calling for the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to resign or be fired from his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci has been a political lightning rod since the early days of the pandemic, lionized by the left and villainized by the right.
But with the release of a trove of Fauci’s emails this past week, Republicans’ political attacks have gone into overdrive.
‘The American people don’t have trust in Dr. Fauci,’ McCarthy told the Breitbart News Saturday radio show. ‘Let’s find a person we can trust. Take politics aside, I mean we’re talking about American lives here.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing calls from Republican lawmakers to be fired
When asked by the interviewer if that meant ‘You think he needs to go?’ McCarthy said ‘yes’.
‘Yea, because you do not have the trust in him,’ he replied.
On conservative news channels, President Joe Biden’s pandemic adviser has been baselessly pilloried as a liar who misled the American people about the origins of COVID-19 to protect the Chinese government.
There’s no evidence of wrongdoing, but Republican calls for his resignation have grown louder, as have demands for new investigations into the origins of the virus.
‘Given what we know now, I don’t know how anyone can have confidence that he should remain in a position of public trust and authority,’ said Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who is calling for Fauci’s resignation and a full congressional inquiry.
House Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy is calling for the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to resign or be fired from his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also called for Biden to fire the doctor.
Fauci, who is now also the chief White House medical adviser to President Joe Biden, has directed NIAID for several decades and served presidents of both parties.
The latest demands for Fauci to step down came after revelations the U.S. National Institutes of Health sent funding to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The Chinese lab may well have been the source for the initial COVID-19 outbreak.
‘It doesn’t take an overactive imagination to grasp human infallibility, or to wonder why a coronavirus pandemic might first break out in exactly the same city that hosted a laboratory specifically studying this class of viruses,’ Rubio wrote.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also called for Biden to fire the doctor.
‘Some scientists were cautious to remain open to a range of possibilities, but others, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, dismissed the idea that the virus could have come from a lab. It was a massive failure in judgment for a prominent public health official.’
The political moves by Republicans represent a new effort to find a reliable foil in the first few months of the Biden administration, as they have struggled to turn public sentiment against the new president.
So far, Biden has enjoyed widespread job approval, buoyed by the public’s broad backing of his handling of the pandemic, which 71% of Americans support, according to a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.
Fauci, who has a security detail because of ongoing threats has repeatedly defended his work, saying he received thousands of emails and has never ruled out any theory.
‘I still believe the most likely origin is from an animal species to a human, but I keep an absolutely open mind that if there may be other origins of that, there may be another reason, it could have been a lab leak,’ Fauci said on Thursday to CNN.
‘Given what we know now, I don’t know how anyone can have confidence that he should remain in a position of public trust and authority,’ said Republican Sen. Josh Hawley
The possibility the had escaped either on purpose or on accident from the virology institute was widely dismissed by public academics, Democrats, and the mainstream media as a crazy theory for months, until May, forcing the Biden administration to take it seriously.
The doctor´s newly released emails, which span the early days of the pandemic and were obtained by BuzzFeed News and The Washington Post, show no evidence of any kind of coverup about the origin of the virus.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has long been calling for Fauci’s firing
Indeed, many of the discussions reflect the science at the time. But Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have seized on the emails as proof of a conspiracy to obscure the source of the virus.
In one email from February 2020, before the outbreak had become a pandemic, Fauci wrote that wearing a face mask to the airport would not help keep its wearer safe from the virus.
‘The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out [the] virus, which is small enough to pass through the material,’ he wrote. ‘It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep[ing] out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend that you wear a mask.’
Republicans including Trump tried to ridicule the doctor saying his overcautious approach ended up shutting down the economy. Fauci is pictured in March 2020
‘Masks worked better when worn by infected people to keep them from spreading their own germs to healthy bystanders’, he said.
Another email from Dr. Peter Daszak, head of the EcoHealth Alliance nonprofit that helped fund research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, thanked Fauci for rejecting the lab-leak theory.
Trump, who disdained the scientist’s popularity, frequently flouted Fauci’s recommendations on battling COVID-19 by playing down the severity of the pandemic and often touting unproven scientific remedies, including a malaria drug and even injecting disinfectant. And he frequently tried to undermine Fauci’s credibility by refusing to acknowledge the evolution in scientists’ understanding of the virus and how it spread, which informed guidance about policies like masking.
The idea the coronavirus escaped from a Wuhan lab was at best a ‘fringe theory’ until recently, when the Biden administration ordered a review
GOP lawmakers are calling for Fauci to be fired with many tweeting their demands
Trump went after Fauci again on Saturday night when he returned to the public stage in a speech in North Carolina. He sees the emails as further vindication that he was right about the doctor, according to an adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.
‘He´s a great promoter,’ Trump said about Fauci. ‘Not a great doctor, but he´s a hell of a promoter. He likes television more than any politician in this room. … But he´s been wrong on almost every issue.’
House Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise said on Fox Business Network on Thursday that Fauci ‘needs to be brought in under oath to answer questions’ about the emails, while Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., now the No. 3 Republican in the House, blasted out a fundraising email with the subject line ‘FIRE FAUCI.’
‘Anthony Fauci´s recently released emails and investigative reporting about #COVID19 origins are shocking. The time has come for Fauci to resign and for a full congressional investigation into the origins of #COVID19 – and into any and all efforts to prevent a full accounting,’ Hawley tweeted after recently voting along with Scalise and Stefanik to block a full congressional investigation into the origins of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
President Donald Trump, have seized on the emails as proof of a conspiracy to obscure the source of the virus. He is pictured on Saturday night in Greenville, North Carolina
But the White House has made clear that it is standing with Fauci, despite the onslaught of criticism.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki this week praised Fauci as ‘an undeniable asset in our country´s pandemic response,’ and Biden felt compelled to poke his head back into a room full of reporters he´d departed Friday to say that he was, indeed, ‘very confident in Dr. Fauci.’ In a sign of support, Fauci will join first lady Jill Biden for a visit Sunday to a vaccination clinic in New York.
Biden administration officials and allies point to polling showing that Fauci is still one of the country´s most trusted public health communicators. Privately, they see the GOP´s focus on Fauci as a ploy to energize their base that likely will not resonate with moderate voters. And they are happy to compare Fauci´s record on public health with Trump´s.
‘A note to Fauci critics,’ tweeted Andy Slavitt, Biden´s outgoing senior COVID-19 adviser. ‘For years, he has been working tirelessly on the development of the mRNA vaccine in anticipation of a potential major viral outbreak. And on Jan 11, 2020, his team downloaded the gene sequence & on the 13th began work on the vaccine.’
‘So keep it down,’ he wrote.
How Fauci flip-flopped on the origins of COVID
April 2020: Fauci repeatedly made public statements suggesting that that COVID was the result of an ‘unusual human-animal interface’ in a Chinese ‘wet market’ and that ‘the mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.’
May 2020: Still adamant that he didn’t believe the coronavirus was man-made. ‘If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,’ he told National Geographic in an exclusive interview published May 4, 2020. ‘Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.’
Late May 2021 to early June 2021: During an event called ‘United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking,’ Fauci was asked if was ‘still confident’ that the virus evolved naturally.
‘No, actually … I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened,’ Fauci said. ‘Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out.’
He added: ‘So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.’