WASHINGTON — The White House is standing by President Biden’s top medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci as he faces the latest in a series of attacks from the right, this time over a trove of recently released emails he sent during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
The emails, which were released to media organizations as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, show Fauci navigating the early days of the pandemic when he became a public face of the U.S. government’s response. Critics of Fauci claim the contents of the now public emails prove that the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases misled people on the contentious origins of the COVID-19 virus.
“The president and the administration feel that Dr. Fauci has played an incredible role in getting the pandemic under control, being a voice to the public throughout the course of the pandemic,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in a briefing Thursday.
Fauci has yet to publicly comment on the emails, though he defended himself against similar criticisms in April.
“I’ve been a symbol to them of what they don’t like about anything that has to do with things that are contrary to them, anything outside of their own realm,” he told Fox News at the time.
At the end of May, Biden directed his intelligence agencies to investigate the origins of the virus, “including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident” in China. He asked for a report back within 90 days, near the end of August.
Fauci has long been a lightning rod for criticism in the culture war around COVID because of his advocacy for mask wearing, among other measures to combat the virus.
“He was a fraud. A massive fraud. The newly released trove of emails to and from Dr. Fauci makes that abundantly clear,” tweeted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., quoting the conservative website Twitchy.
Former President Donald Trump released a statement on Wednesday citing the emails and criticizing Fauci.
Psaki said Biden has not been briefed on the contents of Fauci’s released emails, observing that many are at least a year and a half old.
“He’s been an undeniable asset in our country’s pandemic response,” Psaki said, “but it’s obviously not that advantageous for me to relitigate the substance of emails from 17 months ago.”
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