After months of sharp criticism against the U.S. government’s top epidemiologist, a growing wave of congressional Republicans are now going a step further to call on Anthony Fauci to resign or be fired from his post over revelations contained in thousands of his emails released this week.
“Anthony Fauci’s recently released emails and investigative reporting about #COVID19 origins are shocking,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tweeted Friday. “The time has come for Fauci to resign and for a full congressional investigation into the origins of #COVID19 – and into any and all efforts to prevent a full accounting.”
Hawley was the first U.S. senator to call on Fauci to resign. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joined him on Saturday, saying President Biden should remove Fauci in the aftermath of emails released this week by BuzzFeed.
“Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, dismissed the idea that the virus could have come from a lab. It was a massive failure in judgment for a prominent public health official,” Rubio said in a Saturday op-ed. “During the campaign, Biden said, I’ll choose science over fiction.’ Now is his chance to make good on that promise and fire Dr. Fauci.”
Among the news the emails released by Buzzfeed was that an expert told Fauci as early as January it was possible that the COVID-19 virus could be artificially altered (though the expert who told him that later reversed his stance); that Fauci apparently took seriously the possibility that money from his agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), could have funded “gain of function” work on coronaviruses in a Wuhan lab; and that he was in touch with an individual who’d directed funding to that lab.
Fauci has been the face of the government response to the coronavirus pandemic perhaps more than any other individual.
But his reversals on the use of masks last year – which he and other public health experts have said was simply based on changing science – and general advocacy of erring on the side of caution, upset many on the right who thought the government was going too far in restricting freedoms in the name of public health.
Some House of Representatives members have been calling on Fauci to resign since at least March. A group of House Republicans even introduced a bill to fire him last month.
But amid growing evidence of that a lab leak was at least possible, which Fauci dismissed last year, senators who were previously simply critical of Fauci are now indicating a growing desire to remove the epidemiologist and it is becoming more mainstream among Republicans.
“I do not question Dr. Fauci’s motives — I trust they are noble — but I am appalled by his arrogance,” Rubio wrote in a December op-ed slamming Fauci for apparently moving the goalposts on what level of vaccination will equate to herd immunity.
In his Saturday op-ed, Rubio explicitly questions the motives of “unelected bureaucrats,” apparently including Fauci.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine an update from Federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Multiple GOP senators have called on Fauci to resign or be fired this week. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
“Dr. Fauci has now infamously denied that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded gain-of-function research at the WIV, but that was a lie by omission,” Rubio wrote.
“What if they also conducted unpublished research on SARS-CoV-2? How do we know that the difference between the genomic structures of these two viruses, roughly four percent, was not generated by gain-of-function research at the WIV?” he also said. “Such a possibility offers potential reasons for why unelected bureaucrats in our scientific establishment immediately worked to discredit the lab leak explanation.”
The White House has stood steadfast by Fauci in recent days, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki saying that the emails do not affect the president’s confidence in the NIAID director. Fauci defended himself Friday.
“The emails were taken deliberately and egregiously out of context and therefore are profoundly misleading,” he said, according to CNN. He further alleged that the GOP criticism of him is “disgraceful” and “slanderous” according to the outlet.
The NIAID did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday asking for a response to Rubio’s op-ed.
Meanwhile, the emails are also spurring House Republicans, who were already calling for Fauci to be ousted, to double-down on their position.
“The #FauciEmails have only made the need to #FireFauci more obvious. Rep. Roy is cosponsoring a bill to do that,” the press office for Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, tweeted.
“It’s time for Americans to hear from other voices. Dr. Fauci has lost credibility. #FireFauci,” added Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, the chief sponsor of the House bill to fire Fauci.