Fauci brushes off midterm results, GOP probe threat: ‘I could get on with other things’
Anthony Fauci says he’s not breathing a sigh of relief that Republicans — who vowed to investigate him if they retook the Senate — didn’t win the majority in the upper chamber, because he has “no problem at all” testifying before Congress.
“I have nothing to hide at all, despite the accusations that I’m hiding something,” Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert and President Biden’s chief medical adviser, told ITK at a gala in Washington over the weekend.
“I have nothing that I could not explain clearly to the country and justify,” Fauci said.
Sen. Rand Paul said earlier this year that he planned to subpoena Fauci’s records if the GOP retook the Senate in the midterm elections, as the Kentucky Republican stood to become chairman of the Senate Health Committee.
Paul, who repeatedly clashed with Fauci in congressional hearings over the benefits of masks, vaccinations and the origins of COVID-19, said in a February interview, “If I have subpoena power, we’ll go after every one of [Fauci’s] records.”
Asked on Saturday — shortly before Democrats were projected to hold on to their narrow Senate majority following Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s (D) win in Nevada — if he would consider Republicans not winning control a “relief,” Fauci replied, “It doesn’t matter to me how the elections go.”
“If they have oversight hearings, I’m happy to cooperate,” said the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who announced earlier this year that he’s stepping down from his government role next month.
“And if they don’t, that’s good, too,” he said.
“I could get on with other things.”
While Democrats will retain the Senate come January, Republicans on Tuesday were one seat away from securing the 218 members needed to take control of the House, with about a dozen races remaining to be called. Republicans in that chamber have also eyed Fauci.
“Retirement can’t shield Dr. Fauci from congressional oversight,” House Oversight and Reform Committee ranking member James Comer (R-Ky.) said in an August statement.
Fauci had said previously the threat of investigations played no role in his decision to end his decades-long government career.
Asked for his prediction for the health of the country going into 2023, Fauci said, “Well, we are certainly doing much better than we were doing a year ago, where we had 800,000 cases a day and 3,000 to 4,000 deaths. We’re down much lower, cases are very low,” Fauci said, adding he still “wasn’t happy” about the number of COVID-19–related deaths.
“However, as a public health person, as a scientist and a physician, it is still somewhat disturbing that we aren’t fully utilizing the interventions that we have that are life-saving,” Fauci, 81, said.
“If people did what I would hope they do, and everybody got vaccinated, we can have this thing much, much, much lower than it is,” he said.
“We unfortunately are in somewhat of an anti-vax, anti-science era in this country, with conflicts of people with conspiracy theories and untruths and misinformation, disinformation,” Fauci continued.
“That’s why I can’t accurately tell you where we’re going to be six months or a year from now. I can tell you where we will be if we did the right thing — but it’s up to us.”