Fauci’s return to the headlines could cause headaches for Trump and Biden

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Anthony Fauci will testify before Congress on Monday, bringing the controversial doctor back into the news cycle and potentially raising questions that neither presidential campaign wants to answer.

Fauci, who for many was the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, retired in late 2022, but he has been dragged into a scandal involving his former aide David Morens, who bragged in subpoenaed emails about skirting open records laws for information related to the virus’s origins.

House Republicans, and some Democrats, will grill the doctor before the cameras on June 3 as they seek his phone and email records, but the renewed interest in Fauci may be bring back unpleasant memories for both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr., for example, used an appearance at last weekend’s Libertarian National Convention to attack Trump’s pandemic response.

“He was initially very reluctant to impose lockdowns, but then he got rolled by his bureaucrats,” Kennedy said. “He caved in, and many of our most fundamental rights disappeared practically overnight.”

Trump campaign press secretary Karoline Leavitt snapped back, calling Kennedy a “radical leftist and environmental whack job” who loves electric vehicle mandates and hates the National Rifle Association. Meanwhile, Trump is working to distance himself from Fauci.

“Fauci wasn’t a big player in my administration like he was after I left,” Trump told podcaster Tim Pool. “Biden made him the king of everything.”

The Trump campaign may have to field more Fauci-related questions amid his testimony to Congress and his book On Call: A Doctor’s Journey in Public Service, which will be released on June 18 and likely provide Fauci with a new round of press interviews.

Biden won the 2020 race largely on his pandemic messaging, and he’s reminding voters of that fact this year.

“[Trump] recently asked the infamous question: Are you better off today than you were four years ago? Well, Donald, I’m glad you asked the question,” Biden said during a New York fundraiser on March 29. “I hope everyone in this country takes a moment to think back to where you were in March of 2020. And, you know, COVID came to America. Trump was president. He tried to downplay the whole virus. … He told Americans to inject bleach.”

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Biden embraced Fauci once in office as he promised to follow the science out of the pandemic. But the unfolding email scandal paints Fauci in a less-than-flattering light as Morens worked to shield him from any ties to compromising situations.

“We are getting FOIA’d non stop,” Morens wrote in April 2021, “so it’s most important that Tony not have anything on the record that could come back to bite.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), perhaps the most prominent Fauci critic in Congress, has called for the Biden Department of Justice to investigate Morens and says Fauci could be indicted on the basis of destroying federal records. Paul has his own book, Deception: The Great COVID Cover-Up, that features Fauci on the cover.

The White House and the Justice Department did not respond to questions from the Washington Examiner.

Emails between Morens and EcoHealth’s Peter Daszak include references to the two presidents, with both showing a clear disdain for Trump. On April 26, 2020, Daszak said that Trump is “shockingly ignorant and unconcerned about the damage his actions have.” After EcoHealth won a $7.5 million grant in August of that year, Morens wrote that “there is still justice in a Trump-infected universe.”

But University of California, Irvine public health professor Andrew Noymer said it’s not easy to compare the pandemic responses of the two presidents.

“It’s really apples and oranges,” he said. “Trump was on duty during the onset of the pandemic, and Biden came into office when people had access to vaccines. That’s one of many differences, but the point is it was a different phase. So direct comparisons are hard.”


Another factor is that with the pandemic now firmly in the rear view, the public will tune out no matter what happens with Fauci or who is vindicated by congressional revelations.

“I doubt it,” Republican strategist Doug Heye said when asked if the pandemic will be a big campaign issue. “That’s in most people’s rear-view mirror.”

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