Senate

Paul, Cruz fire back after Fauci says criticism of him is 'dangerous'

GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) on Monday fired back at chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci after he gave an in-depth interview in which he called their criticisms "dangerous."

While sitting down with "Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan, Fauci suggested that lawmakers like Paul and Cruz were targeting him to distract from scandals associated with the Trump administration, such as the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

"So it's easy to criticize, but they're really criticizing science because I represent science," Fauci said in the interview. "That's dangerous. To me, that's more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me. I'm not going to be around here forever, but science is going to be here forever. And if you damage science, you are doing something very detrimental to society long after I leave. And that's what I worry about."

On Sunday, Paul, who has repeatedly called for Fauci to resign or be fired, retweeted a video of the interview and wrote, "The absolute hubris of someone claiming THEY represent science. It's astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity."

Cruz also took issue with Fauci saying he represents science, tweeting, "Fauci is an unelected technocrat who has distorted science and facts in order to exercise authoritarian control over millions of Americans. He lives in a liberal world where his smug 'I REPRESENT science' attitude is praised."

The Texas senator further criticized Fauci for supposedly lying about the National Institutes of Health funding gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and suggested that Fauci should be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

Throughout the pandemic, Fauci has become a target for right-wing media and Republican lawmakers who have decried his handling of COVID-19. Last year, allies of former President Trump accused the leading infectious diseases expert of seeking to undermine the administration.

Trump frequently blasted Fauci, who at times gave advice that was counter to what Trump was publicly saying about the coronavirus. Shortly before Election Day in 2020, Trump said he was considering firing Fauci. Since President Biden's inauguration, Fauci has spoken out about the "chilling" pressure that scientists felt under the Trump administration and the lack of "any direction."

Fauci similarly responded to GOP criticisms earlier this year when speaking to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, following the release of thousands of his emails. Critics of Fauci took issue with emails that appeared to show his consideration of a possible "lab leak" origin of COVID-19, a theory he had denounced in public. Fauci described the Republican backlash to his emails as "very much an attack on science.

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