Updated Dec 12, 2022 - Technology

Lawmakers react to Musk's call to prosecute Fauci

Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor,

Anthony Fauci attends his final briefing on COVID-19 at the White House on Nov. 22. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle responded on Sunday to Twitter owner Elon Musk's call to prosecute National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci.

Driving the news: "My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci," Musk tweeted early Sunday morning, prompting a barrage of replies from officials.

  • He also tweeted out a meme of Fauci and President Biden with the caption, "Just one more lockdown, my king."

Musk hinted at a fifth "Twitter files" release of internal documents that purport to reveal how Twitter operated under prior management and which Musk has framed as an effort to show that his predecessors at the company engaged in censorship.

  • In response to a Twitter user asking, "when will we get the twitter files on covid?" Musk replied, "oh it is coming bigtime..."

What they're saying: "Re Musk tweet? Courting vaccine-deniers doesn’t seem like a smart business strategy, but the issue is this: could you just leave a good man alone in your seemingly endless quest for attention?" Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) tweeted Sunday.

  • "Elon Musk wants to criminalize Anthony Fauci because he disagrees with him. Elon is no champion of free speech," Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) tweeted.
  • "It’s America. You can select any pronouns you damn well please. But Anthony Fauci has likely saved more human lives than any living person in the world. Shame on you," Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) tweeted.
  • "Dr. Fauci is a national hero who will be remembered for generations to come for his innate goodness & many contributions to public health. Despite your business success, you will be remembered most for fueling public hate & divisions. You may have money, but you have no class," former CIA director John Brennan tweeted.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the tweets as "incredibly dangerous" when asked at a briefing on Monday.

  • Musk's "personal attacks ... are disgusting and they are divorced from reality, and we will continue to call that out and be very clear about that," she said.
  • "We are fortunate that he has devoted his career and his life and his exceptional talent to America’s public health," Jean-Pierre added.

The other side: "I affirm your pronouns Elon," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted in response to Musk.

The big picture: Fauci, who served as President Biden's chief medical adviser since January 2021, announced in August that he would be retiring from government service in December to "pursue the next chapter" of his career.

  • As the nation's top infectious disease expert, Fauci has led the NIAID since 1984 and emerged as the face of the nation's coronavirus response in the early days of the pandemic in 2020.

Republicans made clear prior to the 2022 midterm elections they intended to investigate Fauci's role in the COVID pandemic if they won control of the House or Senate. Fauci has previously said he would testify before Congress if called to do so.

  • "If I become a punching bag, I’m a punching bag. But I am very happy to testify before any congressional oversight committee, I have nothing to hide, I can explain and validate everything that I’ve done," Fauci said during an interview in a new episode of "Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace" that dropped Friday.
  • "It’s going to be inconvenient if they actually are out there, essentially threatening to make my life miserable," he added, reiterating that, "I’m going to do what I need to do, and that is cooperate fully."

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.

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