Anthony Fauci on Sunday said it was “ridiculous” that Republicans ran election campaigns using anti-Fauci sentiments earlier this year and predicted attacks on him will continue after he steps away from government.
Fauci, who is retiring next month as President Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan that Republicans have “clearly politicized” public health.
“It is very clear when people are running their campaigns with an anti-Fauci element to it,” he said. “That’s ridiculous. I mean, this is a public health issue.”
Fauci, who also serves as the director of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said the political attacks will “keep going likely much more geared towards me” but that he planned to stay out of the way once he retires.
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“I didn’t get involved before in the politics and I’m not going to get involved now in the politics,” he said.
Fauci is stepping away from government after nearly a half-century at NIAID, which he has led since 1984.
During the pandemic, the public health scientist has received the brunt of the criticism from conservatives who blame him for COVID-19 restrictions and shifting policy to combat the novel coronavirus.
Since coming under the spotlight in 2020, Fauci has also had to endure the brunt of public health conspiracy theories about him and the U.S. government.
Republicans tapped into those voter sentiments on the campaign trail this year, releasing ads critical of Fauci or attacking him in speeches.
The GOP has vowed to investigate Fauci when the party assumes control of the House next month.
The longtime NIAID director said on Sunday that he is in “favor of legitimate oversight” and would comply if he was asked to testify before a House panel.
“I’d be more than happy to explain publicly or otherwise, everything that we’ve done, and I could defend and explain everything that we’ve done from a public health standpoint,” Fauci said.