Dr. Fauci, Senator Paul clash (again) over Biden administration's COVID-19 response
Paul has been among Fauci's most vocal critics since early stages of the pandemic
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
Dr. Anthony Fauci and GOP Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday clashed again over the Biden administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Republican lawmaker also accusing the President Biden's top medical adviser of conspiring to silence critics.
Paul, in a Senate hearing at which Fauci testified, introduced an email exchange between Fauci and former National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, in which Collins suggested "creating a quick and devastating public take down" of several epidemiologists from Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford, who apparently held opinions about COVID with which Francis and Fauci disagreed.
"In an email exchange with Dr. Collins, you conspire, and I quote here directly from the email, to 'create a quick and devastating published takedown' of three prominent epidemiologists from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford," Paul said.
Paul also said: "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 him."
Fauci, also director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, contested Paul's claims, which included that Fauci promptly agreed to Collins' plan.
"In usual fashion, senator, you are distorting everything about me," Fauci said. "You do the same thing every hearing."
To be sure, Paul, also a doctor, has been among Fauci's most vocal critics since the early stages of the pandemic and has called for him to fired from his government post.
Their heated exchange Tuesday appeared to peak when Fauci pulled out photographs from the senator's campaign website with the words "Fire Dr. Fauci" beside a picture of the doctor and an option to donate to the Paul's reelection campaign.
Fauci also repeatedly accused Paul of attacking him for political gain.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky; acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock; and Dawn O'Connell, the Department of Health and Human Services' assistant secretary for preparedness and response, also testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on the pandemic response and the surge in COVID cases as a result of the highly contagious Omicron variant.
Questions about confusing communication efforts from the government to the American people about things like booster shots, test availability, and CDC guidelines quickly devolved into emotional, political sparring when Paul was given the floor.
The lawmaker opened his questioning period by calling Fauci a scientist who "rules by mandate" but often makes mistakes.
Committee Chairwoman Democratic Sen. Patty Murray briefly allowed Fauci to respond to some of Paul's remarks, during which time he discussed the recent arrest of a man Iowa who was allegedly on his way to Washington, D.C., with an AR-15 weapon in his car to kill him.
Fauci said such accusations from Paul "kindle the crazies out there" to behave in way that could be harmful and dangerous to him and his family.
Paul, in 2017, was attacked on his own lawn by a neighbor who ran onto the lawmaker's property and tackled him. As a result of the attack, Paul suffered five rib fractures and later required medical attention for pneumonia.