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Dr. Fauci says GOP Sen. Paul's false accusations have sparked death threats

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, blamed rhetoric from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., for sparking death threats against him and his family.

Paul, who is a trained ophthalmologist, has falsely accused Fauci of being responsible for millions of deaths, and at a Senate hearing on COVID-19 on Tuesday, Fauci said the charge "kindles the crazies out there."

"I have threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me," Fauci said.

Paul looked on without emotion as Fauci made his charges.

Fauci pointed to the arrest of a man last month at a traffic stop in Iowa who told police he was on his way to Washington, D.C., "to kill Dr. Fauci." Fauci said an AR-15 assault-style weapon was found in the man's car, along with multiple magazines of ammunition.

Paul's reelection website has a section called "Fire Dr. Fauci."

The two have sparred at hearings throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and Fauci said Paul was fundraising off of his attacks, accusing Paul of "making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain." Paul's reelection website has a section called "Fire Dr. Fauci."

Paul's attacks, Fauci said, distract "from what we are all trying to do here today, [which] is get our arms around the epidemic and pandemic that we are dealing with."

Fauci was responding to Paul's criticism of emails in which Fauci, who is also President Biden's chief medical adviser on the coronavirus, seemed to be criticizing the work of other scientists.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: January 12, 2022 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous version of this story referenced an arrest at a traffic stop in Indiana. The arrest was in Iowa.
NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.