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U.S. House Republicans grill Dr. Anthony Fauci on COVID-19 origins, response

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene refuses to acknowledge him as doctor, says he should be 'in prison'
By Allen Cone   |   Updated June 4, 2024 at 2:27 AM
Dr. Antony Fauci (pictured 2022) appeared before a U.S. House committee Monday, during which he received intense grilling from Republicans. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI Dr. Anthony Fauci, former chief medical adviser to the president of United States, (pictured 2022) was the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases until 2022. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI Former Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee hearing in 2022. On Monday in D.C., Fauci said the United States needs to better prepare for another pandemic. "I am still disappointed" about current plans, he said. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

June 3 (UPI) -- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the federal handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, appeared before a U.S. House committee Monday, during which he received intense grilling from Republicans, including a member who refused to call him doctor.

Fauci was the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases until 2022 after serving from 1984, including under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden. He also was their top medical adviser.


During the hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic response, including the vaccine development as well as mandates, and the origins of the virus, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., refused to address Fauci as a doctor when questioning him about COVID-era rules and how much he has earned from pharmaceutical companies.

"Do you think that's appropriate? Do the American people deserve to be abused like that, Mr. Fauci?" Greene asked Fauci. "Because you're not a doctor, you're Mr. Fauci in my few minutes."

As he was about to answer, Greene said: "I don't need your answer."

Democratic members of the subcommittee issued "points of order" based on Greene's statements.

Greene said that Fauci "does not deserve to have a license."

And, she said: "You know what this committee should be doing? We should be recommending you to be prosecuted. We should be writing a criminal referral because you should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. You belong in prison, Dr. Fauci."

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, reprimanded Greene for refusing to recognize Fauci as a doctor.

Fauci faced other grilling from Republicans as Democrats defended his work as a scientist. During the hearing, House members mostly made statements and didn't offer much of an opportunity for Fauci to testify.

In January, Fauci appeared for 14 hours behind closed doors. Transcripts were released Monday.

On Monday, the House panel revealed emails that some Republicans believe were made by an NIH staffer regarding evading public records laws, including by not discussing controversial issues on government email.

In opening remarks, Fauci said, "To the best of my knowledge, I have never conducted official business via my personal email."

A U.S. intelligence analysis says there's insufficient evidence to prove the virus emerged at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, or in a lab.

Fauci has maintained he was open to both stances.

"I have repeatedly stated that I have a completely open mind to either possibility and that if definitive evidence becomes available to validate or refute either theory, I will ready accept it," he said in an opening statement.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, asked about the NIAID grant awarded to a Chinese lab.

"Does that have anything to do with that downplaying of the lab leak theory?" Jordan said.

"No, nothing," Fauci said.

"Do you agree that there was a push to downplay the lab leak theory?" Jordan replied.

"Not on my part," Fauci said.

"Really?" Rep. Jordan asked. "I think most of the country would find that amazing."

Fauci said the United States needs to better prepare for another pandemic. "I am still disappointed" about plans, he said.

Florida Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz, who served as the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management early in the pandemic, said states weren't prepared.

Fauci agreed.

"I think one of the things that was really a problem with the response was the degree of divisiveness that we had in the country about a lack of a coherent response where we were having people, for reasons that had nothing to do with public health or science, refusing to adhere to public health intervention measures," Fauci said.

Moskowitz then described the divisiveness.

"Dr. Fauci, you talked about how, you know, we live in partisan times, a lot of misinformation. And you know, colleagues in this body said, you know, you should be charged and found guilty. Of course, the only one that that's happened to is your former boss," Moskowitz said. "But, you know, the question I have is when you saw a lot of that disinformation, whether it was, you know, we can use a disinfectant to do, like a cleaning or do light in the body or that, you know, China's working super hard. President Xi has got it contained. All of this stuff that was being put out. Were you concerned? You know, what was your feeling at that time? Working in the administration, seeing that come from the podium?"

Fauci replied: "Well, I was very frustrated by that. It was very clear I was put in a very difficult position that I didn't like of having to contradict publicly the president of the United States. I took no great pleasure in that, but I felt it was my responsibility to tell the truth."

Fauci said he received threats.

"Everything from harassments from emails, texts, letters of myself, my wife, my three daughters," Fauci said. "There have been credible death threats leading to the arrest of two individuals -- and credible death threats means someone who clearly was on their way to kill me. And it's required my having protective services essentially all the time."

"It was my responsibility to tell the truth."

Ranking member Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., thanked Fauci for his testimony and for his decades of service to the nation in dealing with epidemics and pandemics.

"Over the past four years you have been personally targeted by extreme narratives of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. government's response to it," Ruiz said. "These extreme narratives have been the bedrock of this subcommittees Republican-led probe and have been undermined by what's been found through interviews and by thousands of documents that have been reviewed."

Wenstrup, the committee chairman talked about moving forward.

"I think what I'm most concerned about as we go forward as a country and from our agencies is that we can be trusted and that we are better in our messaging and talk about clarity," Wenstrup said.