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Anthony Fauci testifies before Congress on Covid-19 origins and government response: Live updates

Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 3, 2024. (AFP via Getty Images)

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci will face questions from the select committee on the coronavirus pandemic on Monday – his first testimony before Congress as a non-government official since his resignation in 2022.

Dr. Fauci led the U.S. response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a role that earned him both praise and criticism. He is expected to face cross-examination by Republicans in Congress about the origins of the virus, as well as the transparency of government agency communications and records.

The former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is due to testify before Congress for the first time in nearly two years.

The GOP-led subcommittee has requested access to Dr. Fauci's personal email and phone records after receiving information that raises questions about whether he may have tried to hide some records.

Dr. Fauci will appear voluntarily on Monday. He said he has “nothing to hide.”

The gap between the Democrats' and Republicans' approach to the hearing is striking, with one Democrat calling the hearing a “waste of time” while Republicans pressed Fauci over emerging conspiracy theories about the origins of Covid, including the lab leak theory and Fauci's alleged “cover-up.”

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The 1.80 m rule is back on the agenda

Republicans have repeatedly pressured Fauci over the 6-foot distancing recommendation imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The previous Monday, Fauci had explained that the 6-foot rule came from the CDC.

Representative Joyce asked, “What was your relationship with the CDC when you were confronted with a rule that was not based on the current science?”

Fauci clarified that there is no clinical study that has concluded that a distance of 6 feet is more effective than 30 or 10 feet.

The congressman asked, “This six-foot rule has shut down businesses and allowed kids to stay home and not learn… Didn't you feel an obligation to something that 'just showed up'?”

It was a decision of the CDC, Fauci said.

Joyce asked if he had publicly challenged the CDC. Fauci said it was “not appropriate” to publicly challenge the CDC.

Kelly RissmanJune 3, 2024 17:02

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The vaccine

Democratic Rep. Deborah Ross questioned Dr. Fauci about the vaccine – one of the most controversial aspects of the pandemic response.

Fauci said “the difference is enormous” in the number of hospitalizations and deaths among vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated people.

The vaccine has “clearly saved many, many lives,” Fauci said.

Rep. Ross asked how to combat misinformation. “That's difficult when you have a very energetic group of people spreading misinformation and disinformation about vaccines,” Fauci replied.

Kelly RissmanJune 3, 2024 16:55

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MP Mfume attacks GOP colleagues

Rep. Mfume of Maryland urged Rep. Malliotakis to ask Fauci about the “cruel animal testing.”

Fauci said he did not know what this had to do with Covid. She called the experiments “not very humane.”

“I would like to refer to a personal question to the lady from New York who argued that we should be concerned about human drug testing on animals. If this committee really wants to do something, then we should talk about the most notorious biomedical research study in the United States: the Tuskegee study.”

Kelly RissmanJune 3, 2024 16:48

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“Well, you don’t have any” emails

Fauci rejected the notion that he had tried to “suppress” the “lab leak theory” in an article.

Republican Rep. Lesko asked if he had been asked to hold back the lab leak theory. He dismissed that idea, adding, “You said four or five things that are not true.”

“We have emails to prove it,” she said.

Fauci said, “You don’t.”

Democratic MP Mfume responded: “No, we don’t have it.”

Kelly Rissman3 June 2024 16:41

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“Credible death threats”

Rep. Debbie Dingell asked about the threats Dr. Fauci has received since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Everything from harassment via email, text messages, letters from me, my wife, my three daughters. There were credible death threats that resulted in the arrest of two people … I had to use protective services the entire time,” Fauci said.

“It worries me greatly because it affects my wife and my three daughters,” he added, his throat apparently broken.

He said he still receives death threats today.

“You deserve better… I fear the treatment you have received will have far-reaching consequences for the future of science, particularly when it serves the public good,” said Rep. Dingell.

“I think that's a strong incentive for young people not to want to go into public health or maybe even into science and medicine,” Fauci said, adding that his less “visible” colleagues have also been threatened.

Kelly RissmanJune 3, 2024 16:32

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Fauci confirms that despite his decades as an infectious disease expert, he has never been accused of “starting” a virus.

Kelly RissmanJune 3, 2024 16:30

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“Distance of 1.80 meters” clarified

Rep. Castor said that the job of these subcommittees is to “shed light” on certain issues, but unfortunately in this case this subcommittee “brought more heat than light.”

Republicans waited five months for Dr. Fauci's interview with the subcommittee starting in January.

Although they had the opportunity to release it earlier, they decided to release the transcript last week. “Republicans have twisted and misrepresented Dr. Fauci's words to create conspiracies about the role of the NIH and the lead-up to the pandemic.” She gave Fauci the opportunity to clarify all the parts of his 14-hour transcript that had been, as she put it, “cherry-picked.”

He said the “six-foot distancing issue” came from the CDC.

The transcript, released on May 31, although the interview took place months earlier, shows Dr. Fauci explaining the 6-foot distance recommendation by saying, “You know, I don't remember. It just came up. I don't remember there being any discussion about whether it should be 5 or 6 feet or anything like that. It was just that 6 feet…”

On Monday, he clarified: “What I meant by 'no scientific basis' was that there was no controlled study” comparing three feet to three feet to six feet. “That had little to do with me… 'no scientific basis' means there was no clinical study.”

Kelly Rissman3 June 2024 16:21

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Raskin refers to Trump again

Raskin asked directly, “I'm sure you've never been accused of causing disease. Is that true?” Fauci agreed.

The Democratic congressman then addressed allegations that Fauci tried to “cover up” a lab leak before apologizing on behalf of his Republican colleagues for “dragging his name through the mud.”

“They treat you like a convicted felon. You probably wish they would treat you like a convicted felon. They treat convicted felons with love and admiration,” Raskin said, referring to former President Donald Trump, who was just found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Kelly Rissman3 June 2024 16:09

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Raskin attacks Trump during hearing

Kelly RissmanJune 3, 2024 16:02

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Fauci directly refutes a conspiracy theory

Rep. Ruiz said that after reviewing nearly half a million pages of documents and hearing from witnesses, “they are left empty-handed as far as evidence for their extreme allegations that Dr. Fauci lied about gain-of-function research and caused the Covid-19 pandemic.”

When asked by Dr. Fauci whether he was personally involved in the gain-of-function research, he replied that the research was conducted by experts under his supervision.

“No evidence has been presented to this select subcommittee to demonstrate that work conducted with NIH funding, including at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, led to the emergence of Sars-CoV-2,” Ruiz said.

Fauci spoke of the “evolution” of a virus. The viruses studied at the Wuhan Institute are “so far removed from Sars-CoV-2” that it is “molecularly impossible” that these viruses could have become “Sars-CoV-2”. This is a “virological fact”.

Kelly RissmanJune 3, 2024 15:59