WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, on Tuesday during a hearing sparred with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., after the senator attacked the doctor for appearing to disagree with scientists who said the coronavirus originated from a lab in China.

“What happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue, is that all of a sudden that kindles the crazies out there, and I have threats upon my life, harassment of my family, and my children, with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me,” said Fauci during the Senate hearing.

The two men have had tense exchanges at previous Senate hearings about the coronavirus.

Fauci blasted Paul, who was an ophthalmologist before being elected to Congress, for making political attacks against him, noting that a man was arrested on Dec. 21 while traveling from Sacramento, after he told them he was traveling to Washington, D.C. to kill Dr. Fauci and had an AR-15 in his vehicle along with magazines of ammunition.

“So I asked myself, ‘Why would senator want to do this?’ So go to Rand Paul website and you see ‘Fire Dr. Fauci’ with a little box that says, ‘contribute here’ you can do $5 $10 $20 $100,” said Fauci. “So you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain.”

Paul, earlier in the hearing, said an email exchange between Fauci and former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins showed Fauci and Collins appearing to disagree with scientists who said the coronavirus originated from a lab in China.

“You know, you’re going back to that original discussion when I brought together a group of people to look at every possibility with an open mind,” said Fauci. “So you’re not only distorting it, you are completely turning it around as you usually do.”

The senator, a steadfast opponent of Covid mitigation measures and mask mandates, has clashed with Fauci before on other pandemic-related issues. Paul was the first senator known to have contracted the coronavirus when he tested positive in March of 2020.

Last July, the senator implied that Fauci had previously lied to Congress and was aware of what the Wuhan, China lab was doing with grant money that came from the NIH.

Source: This post first appeared on NBC News

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