White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that he will fully cooperate with House Republicans if they launch an investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
GOP lawmakers vowed in August to open such a probe and call on Fauci to testify if they won a majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. They won that majority earlier this month.
“If there are oversight hearings I absolutely will cooperate fully and testify before the Congress,” Fauci told reporters Tuesday during a briefing at the White House.
“I have no trouble testifying — we can defend and explain everything that we’ve said.”
Fauci became the face of the U.S. pandemic response as the nation’s top infectious disease expert under the Trump and Biden administrations.
He has repeatedly clashed with congressional Republicans over whether the virus that causes Covid arose naturally or escaped from a research lab in Wuhan, China.
Fauci has maintained that it is much more likely that the virus spilled from animals into people.
U.S. intelligence agencies under the Biden administration, in an assessment published in August 2021, were split about the most likely origin.
One agency had moderate confidence that the virus infected people after a lab incident, while four agencies assessed with low confidence that the virus had a natural origin, according to the assessment, which did not identify those agencies.
Earlier this year, Fauci announced that he will step down in December after leading the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for nearly 40 years.
For decades, Fauci was respected as a public health servant on both sides of the political aisle.
But as the response to the pandemic became increasingly politicized under then-President Donald Trump, a Republican, Fauci became a lightning rod for many conservatives in Congress.
In addition to arguing with them over the origins of the virus, Fauci has also repeatedly clashed with Republicans in Congress over mask and vaccine policy.