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Anthony Fauci during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Insitute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday he feels safe even as his security has been stepped up following "growing threats to his personal safety."

Why it matters: As the top U.S. infectious disease expert, Fauci plays a leading and highly visible role in the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Details: "The concerns include threats as well as unwelcome communications from fervent admirers," the Washington Post first reported on Wednesday.

Between the lines: It's unclear what the threats against Fauci entail, but he has risen to prominence as the scientific voice of reason during President Trump's daily coronavirus task force news briefings. The 79-year-old immunologist has at times stepped in to clarify, or even refute, some of Trump's statements.

  • The New York Times reported on Saturday that he had become "the target of an online conspiracy theory that he is mobilizing to undermine the president ... fanned by a right-wing chorus of Mr. Trump's supporters."

What they're saying: Asked at the daily coronavirus task force briefing whether he had his security increased, Fauci referred the question to the Health and Human Services Department's Office of Inspector General.

  • President Trump said Fauci "doesn't need security, everybody loves him," adding, "Besides that, they'd be in big trouble if they ever attacked him."
  • An HHS watchdog spokesperson told Axios they're unable to comment on providing protective services for Fauci.
  • An HHS spokesperson said when contacted by Axios about the threats, "Dr. Fauci is an integral part of the U.S. government’s response against COVID-19."
    • "Among other efforts, he is leading the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and he regularly appears at White House press briefings and media interviews. We do not have anything further to add at this time."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

4 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.

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