Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday responded to previous accusations that funding he authorized through the National Institutes of Health may have led to the development of COVID-19 in a Chinese lab, saying that much of it was coming from “loyalists” to former President Donald Trump who get “annoyed” at hearing the truth.
Towards the end of a lengthy Fox News interview, Fauci responded to a question from host Neil Cavuto asking if he has had second thoughts or any “regret” about his “funding role,” a reference to previous reports that the lead immunologist green-lighted millions in funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where some believe COVID-19 was manufactured and then escaped.
“Well, you know, the idea and the scientific decision to look and screen in the place where the viruses emerge was a good proper scientific decision. The one thing none of us like is what this has all turned into, which is something that is just very complicated…” Fauci said, as Cavuto cut in.
“And even nasty, right, doctor?” the host said, going on to mention Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who threatened this week that Fauci would face major “consequences” if the GOP retook Congress during next year’s midterm elections.
(Video: Fox News)
Cawthorn “has said that if Republicans gain control, he wants you investigated for being a pawn of the Chinese government,” Cavuto noted. “[Sen.] Rand Paul [R-Ky.] all but blamed the deaths of all these people worldwide on you even though he backed off of some of that. Think about what you got involved with with President Trump in the beginning when all of this started. Have you ever gotten to the point where you just want to say ‘the hell with it? I don’t need this?'”
“No, I’m a scientist and my job… is to be a scientist and a public health official,” Fauci said, adding that among his duties was to assist in developing COVID vaccines. “I certainly don’t like how all of this has turned out to be so contentious.”
Cavuto asked Fauci, who’s the long-serving director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, if challenging the former president on certain things he said about COVID-19 has caused much of the pushback against him.
“I think there’s no doubt that because I had to speak the truth during the Trump administration, which at times was contrary to President Trump, that that annoyed a lot of people who got very upset with me,” Fauci said.
“But I wasn’t doing anything personal, I was just trying to speak the truth about what was really going on with the outbreak. It was nothing at all against President Trump,” he continued.
“And in fact, if you look at the record, I have never said anything derogatory against the president. I was only talking about correcting misstatements about the science. I had nothing against the president at all. Not at all. He knows that. In fact, he even says that at times,” Fauci continued.
“But when I was saying things that this is not going to just disappear, that this is not going to just go away, that we do have a very serious problem, that annoyed a lot of Trump loyalists. I’m very sorry that it annoyed them but it is the truth,” he added.
“And that’s what I was trying to do and still do, is to tell the truth.”
Earlier this week, Fauci and Paul engaged in another round of contentious back-and-forth debate as the Kentucky Republican suggested in no uncertain terms he believes Fauci has not been honest during sworn testimony.
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Fauci reacted angrily, denouncing Paul as being “completely out of line” for making the accusation in an interview post-testimony with MSNBC’s Ari Melber.
Meanwhile Paul, in an interview with Fox News, accused Fauci directly of “lying” about his role in funding the Wuhan lab’s research and said he would be making a criminal referral to the Justice Department.
“We have scientists that will line up by the dozens saying the research he was funding was gain of function,” Paul told host Sean Hannity. “He is doing this because he has a self-interest to cover his tracks and to cover his connection to Wuhan lab. Now does he deserve all the blame? No, there’s still some conjecture as to whether or not it came from the lab. But he is lying about whether or not he funded gain-of-function research, and yes, he should be punished.”
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