A frustrated Anthony Fauci appeared to call U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., a "moron" during a tense exchange Tuesday, as Fauci fielded questions from lawmakers on his work on the country's COVID-19 response.
During a Senate Health Committee meeting, Marshall questioned Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top health advisor to President Joe Biden, on his financial disclosure.
As the fiery back-and-forth wound down and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., began asking a question, Fauci could be heard whispering "what a moron" and "Jesus Christ" in response to Marshall's questioning.
Hot mic moment: Dr. Fauci was caught muttering "what a moron" after a fiery exchange with Republican Senator Roger Marshall during a Senate hearing on Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/8N0ho9YDEO
— The Hill (@thehill) January 11, 2022
Fauci was visibly frustrated during the questioning as well. At the end of the exchange he called Marshall "misinformed" for alleging Fauci had not disclosed key financial information.
As Fauci is a public official, his financial disclosure information is available via a Freedom of Information Act request — but Marshall said his staff was unable to find it. He pointed to Fauci's reported salary of over $400,000, making him the highest paid federal government employee.
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"This is a huge issue," Marshall said. "Wouldn't you agree with me that you see things before members of Congress would see them so there is an air of appearance that there are some shenanigans going on. I assume that's not the case."
"What are you talking about?" Fauci interjected. "My financial disclosures are public knowledge and have been so. You have amazingly wrong information."
Media outlets, including the Center for Public Integrity, have obtained Fauci's financial disclosure information in past years.
In a statement, Marshall said Fauci "had a very frustrating day" because of stiff questioning on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, among other issues.
"Calling me a moron during a Senate hearing may have alleviated the stress of the least trusted bureaucrat in America, but it didn’t take away from the facts," Marshall said.
Marshall pressed Fauci, as well as Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on a range of COVID-19 issues during the hearing, which was focused on the surge of omicron variant cases across the U.S.
That included why officials were not investing more in pushing out therapeutics to treat COVID-19.
But the hearing also underscored many conservative attacks on Fauci, a longtime target of Republicans. Some lawmakers have called for his resignation in recent months after he pushed back against theories about the origin of COVID-19 and criticism for his handling of the pandemic.
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In earlier questioning, Marshall told Fauci "the American people don't trust the words coming out of your mouth."
"Every day you appear on TV, you do more damage than good when it comes to educating the public on COVID," Marshall said.
Fauci responded by saying Marshall's question "was a real distortion of the reality."
"If you look at everything I have said on TV, it is to validate, encourage and get people to abide by the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Fauci said.
Andrew Bahl is a senior statehouse reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 443-979-6100.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Anthony Fauci calls Sen. Roger Marshall ‘a moron’ at COVID-19 hearing