Democrats accuse GOP of distorting Fauci's testimony from hours-long meeting

Democrats who took part in the two-day interview with former White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said Republicans had distorted what the former government official told lawmakers on his first day.

Fauci sat through roughly seven hours of interviewing with lawmakers Monday and returned to the Capitol on Tuesday for another round. These discussions marked his first time speaking with lawmakers since stepping down from government at the end of 2022.

Following the first interview, the GOP-controlled Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic posted several takeaways on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

The subcommittee’s X account posted that Fauci “repeatedly played semantics with the definition of gain-of-function in an attempt to avoid conceding that NIH funded this dangerous research” and that he “signed off on every foreign and domestic NIAID grant without reviewing the proposals.”

Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell (Mich.) and Kathy Castor (Fla.) pushed back at these takeaways from Fauci’s remarks.

“The Republicans have totally distorted Dr. Fauci’s testimony, ongoing testimony, which will be available in a transcript,” Castor told reporters, directly referencing the X posts. “And I hope that that won’t take too long, because I think that will be very illuminating to you and to the public.”

The select subcommittee has not said when the transcriptions from the interviews will be released. Fauci has also agreed to testify before the select subcommittee sometime later this year. The former government official did not take any questions from reporters while on Capitol Hill for his interviews.

Dingell said the GOP statements following the first day were “disinformation.”

“They did not reflect the discussion that — I was feeling at the end of the day when I left here, that it had been a respectful discussion and we had had good conversations,” Dingell said.

Referring to his role in issuing National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, Dingell said Fauci had clearly laid out what the process was.

“When you are a supervisor or you are a manager, you have certain responsibilities. And his institute and NIH has a process that is followed where the appropriate people with authorities review things. And that’s the process that he laid out,” Dingell said.

The issue of federal grants seemed to recur throughout the interview, with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) saying, “We need to do a better job monitoring our grants,” when asked for his thoughts on the second day.

“I definitely think that we need to have a better vetting process for grantees who can do subgrants. And when you’re doing things in a foreign lab. I’m not saying we should never do it, but we ought to make sure that the foreign lab has been vetted, that it’s proper,” Griffith said. “One of the things that struck me is Dr. Fauci said, ‘Yeah, it’s not really our job but probably ought to be.'”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chair of the select subcommittee, indicated he disagreed with how members of the minority spent their time interviewing Fauci.

“[All] they want to do is spend their time, I think, talking about how some of our opinions differ from what they say. And that’s fine but doesn’t help us get to where we want to be, which is to be able to learn from the process and how we can improve it going forward,” Wenstrup said.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Raul Ruiz (D-Md.) said on Tuesday that Fauci’s testimony only “reaffirmed” what has already been said and reported on the origins of COVID-19.

“Nothing we have heard over the last two days or in any of these proceedings has shown that there was a cover-up of the pandemic’s origins, suppression of the lab leak theory, any effort to influence the CIA’s origins assessment, or plot to orchestrate the Proximal Origin paper on the part of Dr. Fauci,” Ruiz said in a statement.

“So that the American public can see through this extreme fishing expedition for themselves, I urge my Republican colleagues to make the full transcript of Dr. Fauci’s 14-hour testimony public as soon as possible,” he added.

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