Fauci vs. Fauci: 'America's doctor' allegedly runs away from his COVID legacy in House interviews

COVID subcommittee's top Democrat says transcript will reveal "fishing expedition" to American public. Georgetown gives Fauci prestigious lecture next month.

Published: January 10, 2024 11:00pm

Dr. Anthony Fauci is reportedly distancing himself from social distancing, distributing an ever-changing definition of "gain of function" research, and denying that COVID-19 policies he advocated have definitively set back public education.

The man who helmed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for nearly four decades recalls surprisingly little about how he ran the agency during the pandemic, according to quotes and paraphrases released by the GOP-led House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic from Fauci's transcribed interviews this week.

Outside critics are keen to refresh the memory of the bureaucrat who retired with the largest salary in the federal government and a record-setting pension, such as the allegedly self-serving flexibility of his definitions of research that attempts to learn more about a virus but also enhances its transmissibility or lethality.

Lawmakers who participated in the 14 hours of sit-downs shared further details with the media, including Fauci's alleged skepticism that school shutdowns caused learning loss, as claimed by The New York Times editorial board among a wide range of sources.

Noting Fauci's previous insistence that he didn't force school districts to close, Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, told the New York Post that districts knew they would be vulnerable to lawsuits if they didn't "follow the guidance that’s coming out of the federal government."

Georgetown University, where Fauci is now a distinguished professor, did not respond to Just the News queries for his response to the claims made about his testimony by lawmakers. 

The university's McCourt School of Public Policy implicitly backed Fauci on Wednesday by announcing he'll give its Whittington Lecture Feb. 1 on "Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Lessons from COVID-19."

The transcript from Fauci's interviews won't be made public until lawyers for Republican and Democratic lawmakers and Fauci's attorneys review the documents, subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, told the Washington Examiner.

California Rep. Raul Ruiz, the subcommitte's top Democrat, urged Wenstrup to release the full transcript "as soon as possible" so Americans "can see through this extreme fishing expedition for themselves." Both lawmakers are medical doctors.

Fauci's testimony, like the rest of the private interviews before the subcommittee, has not shown there was a "cover-up of the pandemic’s origins, suppression of the lab leak theory, any effort to influence the CIA’s origins assessment, or plot to orchestrate the Proximal Origin paper on the part of Dr. Fauci," Ruiz said. 

Wenstrup made the CIA allegation in September 2023. The subcommittee GOP said Fauci admitted the lab-leak theory is "not a conspiracy theory," and Wenstrup told the Post that Fauci indicated an "open mind" to it as well as the natural-origin theory argued in Proximal Origin, the Nature paper he shaped that argued lab-leak was not "plausible."

Whether the COVID-19 pandemic that started in China was the result of the virus jumping from animals to humans, leaked accidentally or intentionally from the Wuhan Institute of Virology or began some other way remains inconclusive.

Calling into question Fauci's repeated promotion of social distancing as a COVID mitigation measure – saying it would probably be needed until at least "late fall" 2021 – he allegedly told the subcommittee that the federal six-foot recommendation "sort of just appeared," in his words, and probably wasn't grounded in science, in the subcommittee's paraphrase.

Social distancing was one of the earliest mitigations to face mainstream scrutiny, with former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb saying in March 2021 it "wasn't based on any clear science" and "probably" cost more than any other COVID tactic. Yet the Department of Health and Human Services advocated it as a mandate a year and a half later. 

Social-distancing stickers and "strange arrows on the ground telling us which way to walk" remain on surfaces throughout America, yet are widely ignored, Brownstone Institute President Jeffrey Tucker wrote in a essay Saturday for the organization that fights COVID mandates and whose fellows include the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration authors.

"In other words, edicts to which no one complies serve a certain purpose," he wrote. "They are a visual reminder of who is in charge" and that "at any point, anyone can be snatched away from normal life, made a criminal, and be forced to pay a price."

Fauci, the man once dubbed "America's doctor," also acknowledged one unfortunate legacy of his advocacy, Republicans said: widespread hesitancy toward vaccination in general, not just against COVID.

Fauci, who was a key figure in the Trump and Biden White House responses to the virus, allegedly said he knew the public might come to mistrust vaccines due to the policies he pushed, such as mandatory COVID vaccination for college enrollment.

That adds nuance to Fauci's interview for a 2021 book in which he said that making peoples' lives "difficult" makes them "lose their ideological bullshit" and succumb to vaccination, but it also undermines recent remarks by FDA officials on the cause of vaccine hesitancy.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Director Peter Marks blamed "a wealth of misinformation available on social media and the internet," as well as ignorance that vaccines have eliminated some diseases in the U.S., for falling vaccination rates in a Journal of the American Medical Association essay Friday.

This trend threatens "population immunity against some vaccine-preventable infectious diseases" and will likely cause "thousands of excess deaths" this winter, they claimed.

College-educated parents in "middle- to high-income areas" are particularly prone to forgo some vaccinations for their children due to misinformation, according to Califf and Marks. (America's childhood vaccine schedule is far larger than those of comparably rich countries such as the Netherlands.)

NIAID helped its former leader muddy the waters on gain-of-function (GoF) research by quickly revising its definition after "grant reports made it unambiguous that Fauci funded research to make coronaviruses more dangerous in Wuhan," Emily Kopp of nonprofit public health research group U.S. Right to Know wrote on X Wednesday.

She posted before-and-after versions of the National Institutes of Health's page for "enhanced potential pandemic pathogens" research between Oct. 19 and 22, 2021, by which time the web address redirected to a new one without the words "gain of function" in the URL or a page heading.

The changes were made during the same window in which Lawrence Tabak, NIH principal deputy director, told the House Oversight Committee that it funded Wuhan research that "unexpected[ly]" made mice "sicker" with a modified bat coronavirus — arguably contradicting representations by Fauci under oath that it never funded GoF research.

Kopp also pointed to a recent MSNBC interview in which Fauci first said GoF research is "highly likely to be known to be very transmissible giving morbidity and mortality in humans," then said it's responsible for "an influenza vaccine grown in eggs."

The second has "nothing to do with enhancing how infectious or deadly a virus is," Kopp wrote, speculating Fauci is trying to "escape a perjury conviction." He changes the definition "moment to moment depending on Fauci's legal and rhetorical needs."

Wenstrup emphasized his appreciation that Fauci sat for the interviews and said he "look[s] forward to speaking with [Fauci] further at a public hearing this year." Despite Fauci's repeated answers that he didn't recall specific information, "others we have spoken to do recall the facts."

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News