Anthony Fauci has lashed out at “crazy” comments made by figures on the political right baselessly demanding his arrest.
During a CNN appearance on Saturday, Dr Fauci dismissed calls from GOP politicians and Twitter CEO Elon Musk for his arrest.
“There’s no response for that craziness. I mean, prosecute for what? What are they talking about?” he told host Jim Acosta. “I wish I could figure out what the heck they are talking about I think they’re just going off the deep end.”
The country’s former top infectious disease expert went on to say that those types of remarks were irresponsible and put his family in danger.
“Every time somebody gets out and spouts some nonsense that is misinformation, disinformation and outright lies, somebody somewhere decides they want to do harm to me and or my family,” he said.
Dr Fauci said those threats are the reason he still has security protection, even after stepping down as a chief medical adviser to the President and from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 2022.
Dr Fauci was also responding to a Tweet by Mr Musk telling his 131m followers that “[His] pronouns are prosecute/Fauci.”
Criticism against Dr Fauci reignited last week after FBI Director Chris Wray told Fox News his agency thought the “most likely” explanation was that the Covid-19 pandemic was caused by a Chinese lab leak — a theory that GOP leaders say was dismissed as a conspiracy by Dr Fauci.
Asked if Dr Wray’s statements held any truth, Mr Fauci said it was difficult to tell.
“Well, it’s very tough to tell that, Anderson, because they’re talking about information that they have that we don’t have privy to. So we don’t really know,” Dr Fauci told CNN’s host Anderson Cooper.
However, Dr Fauci said the possibility had not been completely ruled out.
“I mean, we had SARS-CoV-1, which was clearly shown to go from a bat to a civet cat to a human. And if there’s a possibility, which there is, certainly — we haven’t ruled it out — of there being a lab leak, there are things that you can do to prevent the recurrence of these things.
His comments come after House Republicans kicked off an investigation into the origins of Covid-19 in February by issuing a series of letters to current and former Biden administration officials, including Dr Fauci, for documents and testimony.
Dr Fauci has previously said he believes the virus emerged in nature and jumped from animals to humans, a phenomenon known as a spillover event. But Republicans have accused him of lying to Congress when he denied in May that the US funded “gain of function” research — the practice of enhancing a virus in a lab to study its potential impact in the real world — at a virology lab in Wuhan, China.
Earlier this month, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Senator JD Vance slammed Dr Fauci for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Cruz had previously urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Dr Fauci’s statements.
“Dr Fauci has done more damage than any bureaucrat in the history of our nation,” Mr Cruz said in a live recording of his podcast The Verdict on the stage at CPAC. “He would be prosecuted for lying under oath and he would go to jail for lying under oath.”
Mr Vance echoed the sentiment of the panel as well.
“There should be accountability. Tony Fauci lied under oath. It’s not just that, he compelled and persuaded the FBI to censor information about the pandemic as it was unfolding,” he said. “It’s absolutely disgraceful what Tony Fauci did.”
No concrete evidence exists that “gain of function” research was funded by NIH, but Dr Fauci said last year he would cooperate with Republicans if they decided to open a probe.