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Fauci chokes up while talking about harassment of family

Anthony Fauci, the face of the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, appeared to grow emotional Monday during congressional testimony as he described the harassment and death threats he and his family continue to face.

In his first appearance before Congress since retiring about 18 months ago, Fauci offered a spirited defense of his work in the government and described the challenges he has experienced after becoming a punching bag for critics of the federal pandemic response.

“Yes, there have been everything from harassments by emails, texts, letters of myself, my wife, my three daughters,” Fauci said during the House Oversight and Accountability Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic hearing, when prompted by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) to describe the harassment he has faced.

“There have been credible death threats, leading to the arrests of two individuals — and ‘credible death threats’ means someone who clearly was on their way to kill me, and it’s required my having Protective Services essentially all the time,” Fauci continued. “It is very troublesome to me. It is much more troublesome because they’ve involved my wife and my three daughters.”

Fauci appeared to grow emotional at the mention of his daughters, and he reached forward to turn off his microphone briefly.

“At these moments, how do you feel?” Dingell asked, adding a request to leave his microphone on.

“Terrible,” Fauci said, still visibly upset.

“Do you continue to receive threats today?” Dingell asked.

“Yes, I do,” Fauci replied. “Every time someone gets up and says I’m responsible for the death of people throughout the world, the death threats go up.”

Dingell said it’s “unacceptable” for Fauci to experience such harassment, noting he has devoted decades of his life to science and public service. She similarly expressed concern that the death threats he faces could discourage promising young scientists from pursuing a career in the public eye, prompting Fauci to agree.

“I think this is a powerful disincentive for young people to want to go into public health and maybe even science and medicine in the public arena,” Fauci said. “Because it’s very clear that not only I — because I’m very much of a public figure — but many of my colleagues who are less visible than I, whenever they speak up in defense of the kinds of things that we’re trying to do to protect the American public, they too get threats.

“And when they see that their colleagues get threats, they say to themselves, ‘I don’t want to go there. Why should I get involved in that?’ And you have some potentially very good talent that would be important to maintain the integrity and the excellence of the public health enterprise in the United States,” he continued. “We’re not getting the best people coming in because they’re reluctant to put themselves and their family through what they see their colleagues being put through.”

Source: The Hill

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