Dr. Anthony Fauci is stepping down from his role as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in December, announcing on Monday that he is leaving government in order “to pursue the next chapter” of his career.
Fauci, who has served in government for more than half a century, was the face of the government’s Covid-19 pandemic response. “Thanks to the power of science and investments in research and innovation, the world has been able to fight deadly diseases and help save lives around the globe,” Fauci wrote in his announcement.
In a statement, President Joe Biden praised Fauci’s tenure and extended his “deepest thanks for his public service.”
“The United States of America is stronger, more resilient, and healthier because of him,” Biden added.
Fauci was a lightning rod throughout the pandemic for right-wing conspiracies and the focal point of conservative ire regarding the government’s response. Republican lawmakers regularly bashed him in the media while attacking him during pandemic hearings. Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy called Fauci “one of the great criminals of our civilization.” Fox News pushed the idea that Fauci was responsible for the creation of Covid-19. Host Jesse Watters even called for conservatives to “ambush” Fauci and get him to admit that he created the virus.
Right-wingers reacted to the news of his retirement on Monday by vowing to investigate, and in some cases prosecute, Fauci over the handling of the Covid-19. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul tweeted that “Fauci’s resignation will not prevent a full-throated investigation into the origins of the pandemic,” a callback to Paul’s conspiratorial belief that Fauci and the National Institute of Health had a hand in creating the Covid-19 virus.
Former first-son Donald Trump Jr. accused Fauci of being “wrong about everything since the AIDS epidemic,” writing that he is resigning in order to avoid an investigation by Republicans.
Don Jr. wasn’t alone in arguing that Fauci’s retirement was tied to the possibility that the GOP could take over Congress. “Sociopathic liar and political hack Fauci is making a run for it before Republicans can take over the House,” wrote conservative commentator and podcast host Buck Sexton agreed.
“Fauci’s running scared with Republicans taking control of the House, at minimum, next year. Fauci should face criminal charges for lying to congress about gain of function research and covid,” radio host Clay Travis tweeted.
“Dr. Fauci is the most destructive bureaucrat in United States history,” Travis added. “His ‘leadership’ on covid will — in the decades ahead — come to be seen as one of the greatest and most destructive failures in our nation’s history. He belongs in prison.”
Other conservative commentators bypassed the possibility of a showboat congressional investigation in favor of calls for criminal action against Fauci. White nationalist-affiliated commentator Jack Posobiec called for Fauci’s passport to be seized. Diamond & Silk tweeted that he should be “arrested for Crimes Against Humanity.” Musician John Rich went so far as to speculate that Fauci would need time to “prepare with his lawyers for his appearance at the 2023 Nuremberg Code trials.”