House Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy became the latest and highest-ranking elected Republican Saturday to call for Dr. Anthony Fauci to depart his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"The American people don’t have trust in Dr. Fauci," McCarthy told the Breitbart News Saturday radio show. "Let’s find a person we can trust. Take politics aside, I mean we’re talking about American lives here."
When the interviewer asked him if that means "you think he needs to go," McCarthy said yes.
"Yea, because you do not have the trust in him," he replied.
Fauci, who has directed NIAID for decades, through presidents of both parties, is now also the chief White House medical adviser to President Joe Biden.
In calling for his ouster, McCarthy joins Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who called for the doctor to step down Friday, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who called on Biden to fire Fauci in a Fox News op-ed published Saturday morning.
Other House Republicans calling for Fauci to go include Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., and Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, the latter of whom introduced a bill in May that would force the government’s top infectious disease specialist out.
The demands that Fauci step down follow revelations that the U.S. National Institutes of Health sent funding to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, which may have been ground zero for the initial COVID-19 outbreak.
"It doesn’t take an overactive imagination to grasp human infallibility, or to wonder why a coronavirus pandemic might first break out in exactly the same city that hosted a laboratory specifically studying this class of viruses," Rubio wrote. "Some scientists were cautious to remain open to a range of possibilities, but others, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, dismissed the idea that the virus could have come from a lab. It was a massive failure in judgment for a prominent public health official."
In a daily news briefing earlier this week, however, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she couldn’t imagine any circumstances under which Biden would fire Fauci.
Yet, Fauci emails obtained by Buzzfeed News under the Freedom of Information Act have also drawn criticism.
In one February 2020 email, before the outbreak had become a pandemic, Fauci wrote that wearing a face mask to the airport would not help keep its wearer safe from the virus.
"The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out [the] virus, which is small enough to pass through the material," he wrote. "It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep[ing] out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend that you wear a mask."
Masks worked better when worn by infected people to keep them from spreading their own germs to healthy bystanders, he said.
Another email from Dr. Peter Daszak – head of the EcoHealth Alliance nonprofit that helped fund research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology – thanked Fauci for rejecting the lab-leak theory.
Fauci later said that at the time, he believed the virus had most likely leaped to humans from an animal but had not ruled out that it could have escaped the lab. The possibility that it had escaped either on purpose or on accident from the virology institute was widely dismissed by public academics, Democrats, and the mainstream media as a crackpot theory for months -- until May, forcing the Biden administration to take it seriously.
Davidson’s Fauci Incompetence Requires Early Dismissal Act, or FIRED Act, would place a 12-year term limit on the directorship of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has had that role since 1984.
"Americans have had decades of Dr. Fauci’s leadership, and he publicly failed to respond appropriately to the COVID-19 pandemic," Davidson said at the time. "It is time for him to step aside so that new leadership can ‘follow the science’ and start reopening America."