Senator Rand Paul has suggested that Dr Anthony Fauci “deserves” criticism for his handling of Covid and told The Independent he ‘resented’ the US chief medical adviser blaming him for threats made against the top infectious diseases expert.
On Tuesday, Dr Fauci told members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that misinformation issued by Mr Paul and Republicans about his work and Covid allowed for “the crazies out there” to “[make] threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children”.
Mr Paul, who was also accused of profiting from his attacks on Dr Fauci, afterwards appeared in a series of television interviews and called Dr Fauci a “menace” for being “juvenile” for saying that his death threats were because of Republican misinformation about Covid.
The appearances all appeared to forget that Dr Fauci had an unknown substance delivered to his home, was subject to email death threats that led to the arrest of a man, and that FBI agents last month apprehended an individual in Iowa who was travelling to Washington DC to allegedly kill Dr Fauci and US President Joe Biden.
The Republican senator told The Independent in a statement on Thursday that his comments were a reference to criticism that Dr Fauci “deserves for his mishandling of the pandemic”, and for allegedly lying to Congress about the origins of Covid.
“Anyone who dares to question Fauci’s smear campaign against other scientists is accused by Fauci of fomenting violence,” Mr Paul said.
“As someone who actually was the target of semiautomatic gunfire by a Bernie Sanders supporter, I never once accused Senator Sanders of being responsible for the attack and I resent Fauci avoiding the question by ginning up the idea that his opponents are the cause of threats.”
The Senator appeared to be referring to an incident in 2017 when a gunman injured senior Republican congressman Steve Scalise at a congressional baseball game after allegedly threatening persons including Mr Paul.
The Republican, who has dismissed accusations that his Covid misinformation was responsible for death threats issued against the infectious diseases expert, also suggested in an interview with right wing commentator Dave Rubin that Dr Fauci “deserved” to be attacked.
“I mean we’ve probably never had a government bureaucrat have this much power over our lives and this much disdain for our individual liberty,” the Republican added.
Mr Paul also complained about his sustained criticism of Dr Fauci being seen as being “against science”, and again issued a number of false statements about mask wearing and vaccinations.
Although he worked as an eye surgeon for two decades, the Republican senator does not have any qualifications in infectious diseases.
Mr Paul told The Rubin Report that he had experienced “real violence”, however, in an apparent dismissal of the threats against Dr Fauci. The Republican said during Tuesday’s Senate hearing that he did not personally wish violence against the top infectious diseases expert.
“Dr Fauci has more integrity in his toenail than all the GOP senators combined. Rand Paul is a stain on the Senate,” argued a Twitter user on Thursday as the fallout continued.
“Rand Paul is encouraging violence against Dr Fauci absolutely,” wrote another. “He should be censured or impeached. We don’t need senators or congress people like him know leadership rolls in our country inciting violence against an eighty year old doctor.”
More than 100 scientists, doctors, and members of America’s medical community meanwhile signed a letter on Wednesday in support of Dr Fauci, who was described as somebody who has “unswervingly served the United States” and required “our unreserved respect and trust as a scientist and a national leader.”
“Sadly, in these politically polarised times where misinformation contaminates the United States’s response to the pandemic, routine public health measures have become unnecessarily controversial, undermining the effectiveness of our country’s response,” the letter seen by Politico argued.
“We deplore the personal attacks on Dr Fauci,” the signatories added. “The criticism is inaccurate, unscientific, ill-founded in the facts and, increasingly, motivated by partisan politics.”
Another Twitter user wrote: “This, and nearly every previous encounter with Dr Fauci has been an attempt for a feckless Rand Paul to gain points in front of Trump and his GQP rabble.
“If Paul were asking honest questions without a well broadcast ill intent, then yes, good job questioning experts. He’s not.”
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