Republicans are stepping up attacks on Fauci

Republicans in the House of Representatives say they are not done with Anthony Fauci.

Encouraged by newly discovered emails showing top officials trying to skirt public records laws and lingering anger over coronavirus containment efforts, Republicans say they want to file criminal charges against the nation's former top infectious disease official.

Fauci was widely seen as the public face of the coronavirus pandemic, but Republicans believe they are close to finding a smoking gun that proves not only that he lied to Congress, but that he directed a cover-up of the government on the origins of the virus.

Fauci was a lightning rod for criticism from conservatives, especially among allies of former President Trump. Calls to prosecute the 83-year-old former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for unspecified crimes have become a rallying cry among some on the right.

At a hearing this week, Republicans on the subcommittee investigating the pandemic questioned Fauci about his relationship with EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit that received federal funding from Fauci's office to conduct virus experiments in Wuhan, China.

Fauci has repeatedly denied that EcoHealth conducted controversial gain-of-function research, even as Republicans accused him of splitting hairs. They asked him about David Morens, a former consultant who deleted emails and appeared to try to hide information from disclosure under transparency laws.

Although the hearing produced no evidence linking Fauci to the origins of the pandemic, some Republicans insisted he was still responsible and should be held accountable.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) told Fauci that he should be “prosecuted for crimes against humanity” and that he did not deserve to have a medical license.

“You belong in jail, Dr. Fauci,” Greene said.

Fauci also delved into broader COVID-19 issues, such as the rationale for closing schools and churches, and the administration's recommendation for “social distancing” of six feet.

The former NIAID director has accused the Republican attacks of inciting threats against him and his family.

Monday night after the hearing on Newsmax, Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky., who is also on the COVID subpanel), accused Fauci of having “done more damage to our national debt and to our economy than any man in the world'. my life.”

“Hopefully we can believe his words today and continue to try to gather evidence and take steps to charge him with criminal wrongdoing, because I believe the majority of Americans realize that Dr. Fauci made costly mistakes, that he lied about it and he tried to cover it up,” Comer said.

“We're moving forward with this,” subcommittee chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) said on Fox News when asked how he planned to proceed.

“In terms of possible criminal liability, I think a case needs to be made,” he added.

Fauci's lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

After the hearing, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Oversight Committee and also a member of the COVID subcommittee, said Republicans had no case, compared to their so-far fruitless impeachment inquiry against President Biden.

“The attempt to get Dr. Smearing and defaming Fauci parallels their attempt to smear and impeach Joe Biden. Both were complete failures because there is no evidence behind them, but it does reflect their new style of political character assassination,” Raskin said.

Wenstrup has requested Fauci's private emails and cell phone records related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, EcoHealth and the origins of the coronavirus. Republicans have not yet threatened a subpoena, but Wenstrup gave Fauci a June 12 deadline for a written response.

Democrats on the subcommittee have repeatedly said that efforts to go after Fauci fall outside the committee's stated goals of trying to determine the origins of COVID-19 and prepare for the next pandemic.

“I think we actually need to spend more time trying to understand what we did well during the pandemic and what we didn't do well, and then really prepare for … the next pandemic,” Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) told The Hill.

“I think the committee has been focusing on witch hunts for the entire year and a half,” he added.

But fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives support the goals of criminal referrals for Fauci, even if they can't point to specific crimes.

“It's definitely worth looking at,” Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) told The Hill. “I am not a lawyer to tell you which subset of the American code, but from a moral standpoint I can tell you that it is easy to say that he failed to faithfully carry out the duties of his office when it came to what was best for the American. people.”

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) said Fauci's testimony was “incriminating” and that it was time to “stop playing word games and semantics.”

“I think the only way we're going to gain the public's trust, when it comes to public health, when it comes to vaccines, is to hold people accountable,” Miller-Meeks said.

“You can't just sit in a government position, earn a very high salary and then expect to walk away and retire when you want after misleading the public and pushing your own agenda.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), perhaps Fauci's loudest critic in Congress, has taken particular interest in Morens' emails that seemed to imply that Fauci was aware of ” rear channels'. and questionable practices.

Fauci on Monday strongly denied any knowledge of Morens' emails.

“If that doesn't warrant further investigation or prosecution, I don't know what does,” Paul said of the discrepancy between Morens and Fauci when he appeared Tuesday on The Hill's “Rising.”

“[Morens’s] This testimony directly contradicts what Anthony Fauci said yesterday, who said he never used private email, never used the private phone,” Paul said. “And so I think further investigation is needed to find out who is telling the truth here.”

Holden Thorp, editor of the journal Science, said politically expedient attacks have yet to land on Fauci.

“To my knowledge, no one has provided any evidence that Tony Fauci knowingly hid the idea of ​​a lab leak,” Thorp said.

“I don't agree with where they're going with this. But I also think there are things that the scientific community has done that we could have done better,” he added.

Thorp testified before the subcommittee earlier this year about alleged efforts to suppress the lab leak theory in scientific journals, and denied that Fauci ever pressured him. But he said he understands the political developments.

“The truth is, you know, we had an election, they won the majority, they get these hearings. And going in there and answering their questions as cooperatively as possible is probably the best move,” he said.

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