U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called out Republican Sen. Rand Paul during a congressional hearing Tuesday, accusing the lawmaker of spreading bad information and inciting death threats against him over Fauci’s work on the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a heated question-and-answer session before the Senate health committee, Fauci said Paul’s false accusations blaming the White House chief medical advisor for millions of deaths have led to a constant stream of harassment.
“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 told the panel.
Fauci, holding some literature published by Paul’s office calling for the scientist’s firing, said a California man was arrested in Iowa on Dec. 21 driving from Sacramento to Washington, D.C., with the intent of killing several government officials, including Fauci.
“The police asked him where he was going and he was going to Washington, D.C., to kill Dr. Fauci,” he said. “They found in his car, an AR-15 and multiple magazines of ammunition because he thinks that maybe I’m killing people.”
It’s the latest in a long-standing feud between the two government officials. The pair have sparred over the country’s pandemic response since at least September 2020, when Fauci called out Paul for misconstruing the truth.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) arrives for a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and new emerging variants at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 11, 2022.
Greg Nash | Reuters
Paul and Fauci have argued over masks, risk of reinfection, the state of the pandemic and the origin of the coronavirus.
“In usual fashion, senator, you are distorting everything about me,” Fauci said Tuesday. “This happens all the time, you personally attack me, with absolutely not a shred of evidence about anything you say.”
Later in the hearing Paul responded to Fauci, saying it was improper to blame him for the threats.
“It’s disappointing for you to suggest that people who dare to question you are responsible somehow for violent threats,” Paul said.
Fauci was testifying alongside CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock and and Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services. The hearing was examining the government’s work against the highly contagious omicron variant.