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Dr. Fauci Faces Heated Interrogation in Contentious House Hearing Today

In his first congressional appearance since retiring in 2022, Dr. Anthony Fauci, former chief White House medical adviser and long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), testified before the House Oversight and Accountability Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic today. The highly anticipated hearing, marked by fiery exchanges and partisan divides, focused on the origins of COVID-19 and the U.S. government’s response to the pandemic.

Dr. Fauci, who has been a polarizing figure throughout the pandemic, faced aggressive questioning from Republican committee members. Central to the interrogation were allegations surrounding the “lab leak theory” and accusations of misconduct within NIAID. Dr. Fauci consistently denied any wrongdoing or attempts to conceal information about the virus’s origins.

“It is possible that the virus leaked from a lab,” Fauci stated, emphasizing his openness to various theories. However, he firmly rejected the notion that he influenced scientists with grant money or directed any cover-up. “The accusation that I influenced the scientists to change their minds by bribing them with millions of dollars in grant money is absolutely false and simply preposterous,” he said.

A significant point of contention was the role of David Morens, a senior adviser to Fauci. Congressional investigators discovered emails suggesting that Morens might have tried to bypass Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by using personal email accounts. Dr. Fauci distanced himself from these actions, asserting he was unaware of Morens’s behavior and emphasizing that Morens was not an advisor on policy or other substantive issues. “I knew nothing of Dr. Morens’s actions regarding Dr. Daszak, EcoHealth, or his emails,” Fauci clarified.

The hearing’s most dramatic moments came during Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) questioning. Greene, known for her combative style, refused to acknowledge Fauci as a doctor and accused him of crimes against humanity, leading to heated disputes over decorum. “Mr. Fauci, because you’re not a doctor, you’re Mr. Fauci in my few minutes,” Greene declared, sparking objections from Democratic members. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) questioned the appropriateness of denying Fauci’s medical credentials, while Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) lamented the descent into incivility.

The hearing also saw disruptions from the audience, with several attendees wearing “Got Ivermectin?” T-shirts and making loud comments. Two individuals were removed by Capitol Police for heckling, further contributing to the chaotic atmosphere.

Democrats on the committee defended Dr. Fauci, accusing Republicans of conducting a politically motivated witch hunt. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) asserted, “He absolutely answered under oath in a way that refuted all the false accusations from Republicans.” Similarly, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) condemned the hearing as part of a broader effort to vilify Dr. Fauci.

Republicans, however, continued to press Fauci on various issues, including the six-foot social distancing guidance, vaccine mandates, and alleged “gain of function” research funded by NIAID. Dr. Fauci reiterated that many decisions, like the six-foot distancing rule, were made by the CDC and not his office.

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