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Fauci says he still faces death threats because of political ‘performances’ like Marjorie Taylor Greene’s at Covid-19 hearing

Allison Bailey/Middle East Images/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus in Washington, DC, on June 3, 2024. Fauci was, to many, the public face of government response to the coronavirus and a frequent target of Republican lawmakers’ ire arising from the shutdown.


Dr. Anthony Fauci said he sees a direct link between the rise in death threats made against him and his family and public figures connecting him to Covid-19 conspiracy theories, which he noted happened earlier Monday during a contentious House hearing about the government’s response to the pandemic.

“It’s a pattern,” Fauci told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on “The Source,” adding that when someone in the media or in Congress “gets up and makes a public statement that I’m responsible for the deaths of X number of people because of policies or some crazy idea that I created the virus – immediately you can, it’s like clockwork – the death threats go way up.”

The former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was grilled by Republicans on the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic about the US’ handling of Covid-19, the origins of the virus and the use of unofficial emails by some officials at the National Institutes of Health.

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia in heated remarks during the hearing criticized mask mandates, called for Fauci to be prosecuted for “crimes against humanity” and refused to call the former NIAID director “doctor.”

“So that’s the reason why I’m still getting death threats. When you have performances like that unusual performance by Marjorie Taylor Greene in today’s hearing, those are the kinds of things that drive up the death threats because there are a segment of the population out there that believe that kind of nonsense,” Fauci said.

CNN has reached out to Greene’s office for comment.

In an emotional moment at Monday’s hearing, Fauci detailed the threats he received during his time as the director of the NIAID.

Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan asked Fauci to explain what some of the threats were and he replied: “Everything from harassments from emails, texts, letters of myself, my wife, my three daughters. There have been credible death threats leading to the arrest of two individuals – and credible death threats means someone who clearly was on their way to kill me. And it’s required my having protective services essentially all the time.”

Monday’s hearing was Fauci’s first public testimony on Capitol Hill since his retirement from government service in 2022, but, he told Collins on “The Source,” he has “testified literally hundreds of times over the last 40 years over Congress.”

Fauci served at NIAID for 38 years under both parties’ administrations, starting with former President Ronald Reagan. He helped lead the US response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, as well as West Nile virus, the anthrax attacks, pandemic influenza, various bird influenza threats, Ebola, Zika – and he became one of the most public faces of the federal response to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

“There’s always been differences of opinion, differences of ideology, criticisms and things like that. But the level of vitriol that we see now – just in the country in general, but actually played out during this hearing – was really quite unfortunate because the purpose of hearings are to try and figure out how we can do better so that next time, if and when we are faced with a pandemic, we’d be better prepared,” he said.

CNN’s Betsy Klein, Jen ChristensenElise HammondAntoinette Radford and Maureen Chowdhury contributed to this report.

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