U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called out Republican Sen. Rand Paul during a Congressional hearing Tuesday, accusing the lawmaker of spreading bad information and inciting death threats against him over Fauci’s work on the pandemic.
In a heated question-and-response session before the Senate health committee, Fauci said Paul’s false accusations blaming the White House chief medical advisor for millions of deaths have led to a constant stream of harassment.
“What happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue is that all of a sudden that kindles the crazies out there and I have threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls, because people are lying about me,” Fauci told the panel.
Fauci, holding some literature published by Paul’s office calling for the scientist’s firing, said a California man was arrested in Iowa on Dec. 21 driving from Sacramento to Washington with the intent of killing several government officials, including Fauci.
“The police asked him where he was going and he was going to Washington DC to kill Dr. Fauci,” he said. “They found in his car, an AR-15 and multiple magazines of ammunition because he thinks that maybe I’m killing people.”
It’s the latest in a longstanding feud between the two government officials. The pair have sparred over the country’s pandemic response since at least September 2020, when Fauci called out Paul for misconstruing the truth.
Paul and Fauci have argued over masks, risk of reinfection, the state of the pandemic and the origin of the coronavirus.
“In usual fashion, Senator, you are distorting everything about me,” Fauci said Tuesday. “This happens all the time, you personally attack me, with absolutely not a shred of evidence about anything you say.”
Fauci was testifying alongside CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock and and Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services. The hearing was examining the government’s work against the highly contagious omicron variant.