Since Fauci announced his intention to retire in December, many have speculated that his decision was based on the likelihood that Republicans are expected to win the House and possibly the Senate as well, and make Fauci and his response to the COVID-19 pandemic the center of various investigations.
Fauci denied any connection between his retirement and the threat of accountability from the GOP when asked by Fox News’s Neil Cavuto on Tuesday.
“Why now, doctor? Why are you leaving now?” Cavuto asked.
“Well, you know, Neil, there’s no really very good time to leave. I’ve been thinking about leaving now for quite a while,” Fauci began. “I was going to step down ’cause I wanted to while I was still healthy and vigorous and energetic and passionate about what I was doing to do something outside of the sphere of the federal government.”
Fauci also claimed that he had planned to leave at the end of the Trump administration.
“I was gonna do that about a year-and-a-half ago, but at the end of the Trump administration, when President Biden was elected, before he even was inaugurated, he asked me to be his chief medical advisor. I felt very honored by that offer and I decided to stay a year, thinking, Neil, that COVID would be done with a year from that time. And it turns out that was not the case,” he claimed. “And then, as we got into 2022, I felt that, as we got more and more into this and more and more people vaccinated, we very likely would be approaching a period of equilibrium with the virus where we could actually live with it without it disrupting our social order. And then I felt it was about time and that’s the reason why I made the announcement.”
That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it — even when Cavuto pressed him again, asking point blank whether the decision was a means to avoid Republican investigations.
“Oh, Neil, not at all,” Fauci insisted. “Not even a little bit. I mean, I have nothing to hide, and I can defend everything I’ve done and every decision I’ve made, so I’m not afraid of that at all. That didn’t even come in as a minor consideration.”
NIAID Director and Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden Dr. Anthony Fauci on stepping down from current roles pic.twitter.com/sP8AvttcIU
— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) August 23, 2022
The only problem with this claim is that Fauci previously acknowledged to Politico last month that he believed if he wasn’t serving as NIAID director anymore, that might make Republicans less inclined to investigate him
“They’re going to try and come after me, anyway. I mean, probably less so if I’m not in the job,” he admitted, though he also claimed that he wouldn’t take that into consideration.