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GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci amid Trump criticism

Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Blunt's retirement deals blow to McConnell inner circle MORE (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, defended Anthony FauciAnthony FauciVaccinated Fauci hosts people at home, but stays away from crowded indoor spaces Trump endorses Rand Paul for reelection The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Let's make a deal on infrastructure, taxes MORE on Monday after President TrumpDonald TrumpGaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Police in California city declare unlawful assembly amid 'white lives matter' protest MORE lashed out at the nation's top infectious disease expert.

“Dr. Fauci is one of our country’s most distinguished public servants. ... If more Americans paid attention to his advice, we’d have fewer cases of COVID-19, and it would be safer to go back to school and back to work and out to eat," Alexander said in a statement.

The public pushback from Alexander, who is retiring at the end of the year, comes after Trump blasted Fauci as a "disaster" on a campaign call earlier Monday.

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“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots — these people, these people that have gotten it wrong. Fauci is a nice guy, he’s been here for 500 years, he called every one of them wrong,” Trump told campaign staffers during the call, audio of which was obtained by The Hill

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at public health experts within his administration, including Fauci, amid the coronavirus pandemic that has killed approximately 220,000 Americans, bludgeoned the U.S. economy and dramatically reshaped the 2020 election.

But his latest remarks come after Fauci told CBS's "60 Minutes" that he was not surprised Trump contracted the coronavirus after a White House event formally announcing Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettMcConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS Progressives give Biden's court reform panel mixed reviews Top GOP super PAC endorses Murkowski amid primary threat MORE as his Supreme Court nominee.

“I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask,” Fauci told "60 Minutes."

A number of individuals at the event, including Trump, subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus.