Caught in the crosshairs, Fauci calls GOP details of his email ‘deeply misleading’

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“Mister President, do you still trust Dr. Fauci?”

Turning his head across the room several seconds later, Biden gave a candid response: “Yes, I have great faith in Dr. Fauci.”

It was a public display of support that Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had rarely received from Biden’s predecessor, and it came as one. Hundreds of his emails exposed made him the target of his Republican critics.

A day earlier, former President Donald Trump slammed Fauci over email in a statement issued by his leadership PAC, saying, “After seeing the email, our country is fortunate that I didn’t do what Dr. Fauci wanted me to do. There are so many questions that Dr. Fauci must answer.”

Trump’s statement was the latest message from the Republican Party’s renewed effort Turn Fauci into the party’s top political foe. GOP lawmakers, many of whom were skeptical of what they see as Fauci’s outside influence and undue authority as a public health official, are now openly calling for him to be fired.

Some Republican critics of Fauci claim that his emails released to the public this week as part of a Freedom of Information Act request by news outlets including CNN, BuzzFeed News and The Washington Post provide evidence that he Last year acted improperly.

Among his complaints is that Fauci downplayed the effectiveness of the masks, too quickly debunking a theory that the novel coronavirus originated from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and was also prepared to accept China’s explanation of how the virus came about – even though Fauci’s position on the mask question was consistent with that of the entire Trump administration at the time, and he alone is far from the lab link theory. to doubt.

Push to fire Fauci

This week, Trump aides began circulating a pair of tweets by GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri calling for Fauci’s resignation. And on Friday, a person close to the former president said he would be “shocked if Trump doesn’t light up Fauci” during remarks he is set to deliver to the North Carolina Republican Party on Saturday evening.

Rep. Chip Roy went after sanctions imposed by Fauci and “federal bureaucrats” during a radio interview on Friday. “We literally ruined the biggest economy in the history of the world because Anthony Fauci wanted to be on the cover of magazines,” said the Texas Republican.

And a fundraising pitch from GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky went haywire on Thursday at Fauci. “Dr. Fauci must go,” the solicitation read, “he is constantly and deliberately misleading the public at every turn. It is time to fire FAUCI… There are 2,000 emails proving that Fauci has taken his stand on facts. The ego chose.”

The 4,000 pages of emails released from Fauci’s government account last year provide a window into the communications he was conducting during the early months of the pandemic. His Republican critics say they confirm their worst suspicions about him, with some claiming they prove he lied under oath.

Fauci pushes back

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Fauci defended his communication and said his critics took him out of context.

“The emails were deliberately and aggressively taken out of context and are therefore deeply misleading,” Dr. Fauci told CNN. “That’s it. There’s no doubt about it.”

On allegations he lied under oath, Fauci replied, “Are you kidding me?”

Despite Fauci’s decades of work at the National Institutes of Health under presidents from both sides, he has been viewed with everything from skepticism to hostility by Republicans who now view his policy recommendations – school closures, crowd limits. On the mask mandate and social distancing. — as both wrong and politically damaging to Trump.

Now, the Biden administration has fully embraced Fauci — even bringing him into the White House in an official role as chief medical adviser — despite serving as Fauci’s top Trump adviser, a Republican. license to treat him as a political rival.

Critics have particularly lashed out at an email sent to Fauci in April 2020. An executive at the EcoHealth Alliance, the global nonprofit that helped fund some of the research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, thanked Fauci for saying this publicly. Scientific evidence supports a natural origin For coronavirus and not for lab release. (The origin of the virus is unclear.)

Fauci called the Republican criticism “misrepresentation at its greatest” and called his comments “derogatory” and “blasphemous.”

“There’s not a single thing I can’t explain.”

But for Trump and other Republicans, going after Fauci as an out-of-touch and potentially compromised bureaucrat is fodder.

“The correspondence between Dr. Fauci and China speaks loud enough that no one can ignore it,” Trump said on Thursday.

a joint effort

Expressing opposition to Fauci has become an easy attack line for conservative Republicans to score points with the party’s base.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus, including President Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican, and Rep Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, is tweeting that the White House is “protecting” Fauci. and rape. Marjorie Taylor Green, a controversial Georgia Republican known for promoting conspiracy theories and racist rhetoric, introduced a bill called “firefighters act“That would reduce Fauci’s salary to $0, which undoubtedly will go nowhere in the Democratic-majority House.

Following the email leak, several more House conservatives, such as Reps Matt Getz of Florida and Buddy Carter of Georgia, signed on to law as co-sponsors.

When it comes to the optics of conservative attacks on Fauci, a spokesman for the Democratic campaign committee told CNN that Democrats don’t care.

“In four months they have used everything from Dr. Seuss to hamburgers as an attack that has fallen flat. If this is what they want to spend their time with, while Americans get back to work and normalcy When I return, they can be our guests,” said the aide.

Conservative media outlets, meanwhile, are intensifying their investigation into the contrasts between Fauci’s privately expressed views during the first few months of the pandemic, when he became a key member of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 task force, and Developed understanding of how the virus worked and how it originated.

These news channels have given a platform to even Fauci’s most ardent critics. Appearing on Fox News Wednesday, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Fauci was echoing the Chinese Communist Party’s line that it was unlikely the coronavirus originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.

Pompeo said some of Fauci’s comments were “exactly the same words, the exact same excuses, the exact same principles that the Chinese Communist Party has presented for a year.”

CNN’s Tara Subramaniam contributed to this report.

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