By Daniel Chaitin, Deputy News Editor
Sen. Ted Cruz fired back at Dr. Anthony Fauci in a cocktail of words mixing science, politics, and COVID-19.
The Texas Republican sent a sharply worded tweet thread in response to Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, who condemned GOP senators for “dangerous” rhetoric aimed at him and, by extension, science.
“Fauci is an unelected technocrat who has distorted science and facts in order to exercise authoritarian control over millions of Americans,” Cruz said Sunday evening. “He lives in a liberal world where his smug ‘I REPRESENT science’ attitude is praised.”
Fauci made headlines earlier in the day during an interview on CBS News’s Face the Nation in which he criticized the “noise” from Republicans including Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul, who have accused him of lying about funding gain-of-function research. In making his case, he equated science to himself.
“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,” he said.
Moments earlier in the interview, Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, quipped about the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 when asked about Cruz, one of several GOP lawmakers who has attacked him.
“Yeah. I have to laugh at that. I should be prosecuted? What happened on Jan. 6, senator?” Fauci said.
Cruz was one of the GOP senators who committed to challenging the results of the 2020 election in the lead-up to Jan. 6. Although the riot disrupted the process of counting the electoral votes, President Joe Biden’s victory was soon affirmed.
Cruz is also one of the Republican lawmakers who has accused Fauci of lying to Congress about funding gain-of-function research at a lab in Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 cases were first reported in 2019.
The NIH said last month that one particular group under scrutiny, EcoHealth Alliance, violated grant rules in failing to report research findings on mice becoming sicker when infected by a certain bat coronavirus. The nonprofit group contends it did meet reporting requirements.
Fauci has denied that the National Institutes of Health funded risky gain-of-function research, and the NIH rejected claims that it provided money that went toward such work led to the pandemic, but critics including Paul contend the NIH letter confirms that the Wuhan lab collaborator had indeed been conducting gain-of-function research.
Gain-of-function research is defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as research “that improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease” to “enable assessment of the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents.” It warns these studies “may entail biosafety and biosecurity risks.”
In his tweet thread, Cruz presented a timeline of what was said and insisted that Fauci is in the wrong.
“No amount of ad hominem insults parroting Democrat talking points will get Fauci out of this contradiction,” Cruz said. “Fauci either needs to address the substance — in detail, with specific factual corroboration — or DOJ should consider prosecuting him for making false statements to Congress.”
Paul, a Kentucky Republican, has clashed with Fauci multiple times during hearings and even referred him to the Justice Department for prosecution, accusing President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser of lying to Congress.
He also took shots at Fauci over his word choice in the CBS interview.
“The absolute hubris of someone claiming THEY represent science. It’s astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity,” Paul tweeted Sunday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including those who have recovered from the virus and built up natural immunity against it, though questions remain, including how long the protection lasts.
Still, Republicans have piled on Fauci, such as when in September he did not have a “firm answer” when asked if natural immunity offered better protection from COVID-19 than the vaccine.