Dr. Anthony Fauci snapped at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) during an interview with CBS’ Margaret Brennan, arguing that his most prominent critics were attacking him in an effort to deflect from other major issues like the Capitol Hill riot that took place on January 6th.
Brennan took some time during the pre-recorded interview, which aired on Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” to address some of the backlash Fauci had gotten from critics in Congress.
Brennan (NARRATING): Towards the end of our conversation with Dr. Fauci, we asked him about whether there should be tougher global regulations put in place for labs that deal with highly contagious viruses. He brought up legislation sponsored by Republicans that would limit U.S. government support for “gain of function” research in which experts modify viruses to better understand them. There has been speculation that a lab accident led to the spread of COVID. Dr. Fauci said there are already strict guardrails in place that the public doesn’t fully appreciate.
Brennan: This is a political football right now.
Fauci: It is a total political football, total.
Brennan: And you take the fire, specifically, for this.
Fauci: I do, I do. All the time.
Brennan: There’s a congressional act with your name on it, literally.
Fauci: Yes, exactly. And it’s just a lot of — well, anyway…
Brennan: Finish the thought.
Fauci went on to say that critics like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) were distracting scientists from making real progress by turning research into a political issue rather than a scientific one.
Lawmakers like Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have called for Dr. Fauci to step down and be prosecuted over the course of COVID-19. Fauci scoffs at such threats, calling it “noise.”
“They’re really criticizing science because I represent science. That’s dangerous.” pic.twitter.com/zLzceD2DHe
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) November 28, 2021
Brennan asked Fauci how he had handled the death threats and other criticisms that had come his way throughout the course of his career — coming to a head during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I dealt with it by focusing on what my job is. From the time that I went into medicine to the right now, where I am at my age, my job has been totally focused on doing what I can with the talents and the influence I have to make scientific advances, to protect the health of the American public. So, anybody who spins lies and threatens and all that theater that goes on with some of the investigations and the congressional committees and the Rand Pauls and all that other nonsense, that’s noise … that’s noise. I know what my job is,” Fauci said.
“Senator Cruz told the attorney general you should be prosecuted,” Brennan prompted, and Fauci just laughed.
“Yeah. I have to laugh at that. I should be prosecuted? What happened on January 6, Senator?” Fauci shot back.
“Do you think that this is about making you a scapegoat to deflect from President Trump?” Brennan asked.
“Of course, of course. You have to be asleep not to figure that one out,” Fauci continued, saying that he didn’t care whether Republican senators continued to attack him in that manner. “That’s okay. I’m just going to do my job. And I’m going to be saving lives, and they’re going to be lying.”
Brennan continued to press, asking whether that was adding “another layer of danger” if members of Congress continued to “play politics around matters of life and death.”
“Exactly. Exactly. And to me, that’s — that’s unbelievably bad. Because all I want to do is save people’s lives,” Fauci continued, pivoting to repeat his previous claim that any attack on him was really an attack on science. “I mean, anybody who’s looking at this carefully realizes that there’s a distinct anti-science flavor to this. So if they get up and criticize science, nobody’s going to know what they’re talking about. But if they get up and really aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, people could recognize. There’s a person there. So it’s easy to criticize. But they’re really criticizing science, because I represent science. That’s dangerous. To me, that’s more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me. And if you damage science, you are doing something very detrimental to society, long after I leave.”