Sen. Josh Hawley called on Dr. Anthony S. Fauci to resign Friday over what the Missouri Republican said were “shocking” newly released emails concerning the top public health official and the origins of COVID-19.
Mr. Hawley said the leading epidemiologist should step down in a series of social media postings he made as a growing number of GOP lawmakers have begun demanding that Dr. Fauci be fired outright.
“Anthony Fauci‘s recently released emails and investigative reporting about #COVID19 origins are shocking. The time has come for Fauci to resign and for a full congressional investigation into the origins of #COVID19 — and into any and all efforts to prevent a full accounting,” Mr. Hawley said on Twitter.
“The public deserves to know if persons within the US govt tried to stop a full investigation into #COVID origins, as recently reported,” Mr. Hawley said in another tweet, adding Congress must also find out to what extent Dr. Fauci was involved in financing research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory in China the senator has suspected the continuing global novel coronavirus pandemic may have first started.
Republican criticism of Dr. Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden’s top medical adviser, recently swelled after many of his emails became public this week.
The emails include correspondence Dr. Fauci sent and received early in the coronavirus pandemic and contain messages that some of his critics have alleged to show he sought to supposedly “cover-up” its origins.
Appearing late Friday on MSNBC, Dr. Fauci said there is concern about the origins of the virus and that it is “extremely legitimate” for questions about it to exist.
“But it is being approached now in a very vehement way, in a very distorted way,” said Dr. Fauci. “You should want to know how this happened so that we can make sure it doesn’t happen again. But what’s happened in the middle of all of that, I’ve become the object of extraordinary –I believe – completely inappropriate, distorted, misleading, and misrepresented attacks which, you know, it is what it is, but it’s happening, and that’s unfortunate.”
Mr. Hawley’s push for Dr. Fauci‘s resignation came on the heels of some of his congressional colleagues recently calling for his removal.
“Dr. Fauci has blood on his hands, and now the entire country knows it,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, said Friday evening on Newsmax TV while discussing the emails.
“Fauci lied. People died. #FireFauci,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Republican, said Thursday on Twitter. Ms. Greene is also sponsoring a bill, the “Fire Fauci Act,” pending in the House of Representatives.
The first cases of COVID-19 were reported around Wuhan in late 2019. More than 170 million cases have been reported worldwide in the subsequent 18 months or so, including 33.4 million in the U.S. alone.
President Biden said last month that the U.S. intelligence community recently determined that it was possible COVID-19 may have emerged because of either human contact with an infected animal or from a lab accident.
Mr. Biden, a Democrat, added that he asked the intelligence community to “redouble” its efforts to investigate the virus’ origins and conduct further analysis to be contained in a report due to him by late August.