Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Friday exposed the hypocrisy of White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, skillfully pressing him on whether the government should limit the people’s right to protest to help slow the spread of the coronavirus like it has limited other constitutional rights.
Fauci, who was testifying before the House Select Subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic, repeatedly refused to condemn the protests, but said in general terms that people should “avoid crowds of any type no matter where you are.”
Jordan, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, pointed out that there is a gross double standard at play when public health experts support massive Black Lives Matter protests, but push for restrictions on gatherings at churches and places of business.
“Do protests increase the spread of the virus?” Jordan asked Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I think I can make a general statement,” Fauci responded. “Crowding together, particularly when you’re not wearing a mask contributes to the spread of the virus.”
Given his answer, Jordan asked the infectious disease expert if the government should “limit the protesting.”
“I’m not sure what you mean,” Fauci replied, appearing confused.
When Jordan repeated the question, Fauci called the question “irrelevant.”
“Well you just said it increases the spread of the virus, I’m just asking should we limit it,” Jordan persisted.
“Well, I’m not in a position to determine what the government can do in a forceful way,” Fauci replied.
“Well, you make all kinds of recommendations,” Jordan fired back. “You make comments on dating, baseball, and everything you can imagine. I’m just asking you should we try to limit the protesting.”
“No, I think I would leave that to people who have more of a position to do that,” Fauci demurred.
“Government has stopped people from going to church Dr. Fauci,” Jordan exclaimed. He went on to note that the Supreme Court recently ruled that it was okay for the state of Nevada to limit church services.
“Is there a world where the constitution says you can favor one First Amendment liberty—protesting—over another—practicing your faith?” Jordan pressed.
But Fauci continued to dodge the question, saying only that “crowds” should be avoided, instead of saying “protests” should be limited.
“I’m not favoring anybody over anybody,” Fauci replied defensively. “I’m just making a statement that’s a broad statement: Avoid crowds wherever you are because that leads to the acquisition and transmission. And I don’t judge one crowd versus another crowd.”
He added: “When you’re in a crowd, particularly if you’re not wearing a mask, that induces the spread.”
Back in March, it should be noted, Fauci said during a 60 Minutes interview that “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” The infectious disease expert explained that masks may block some droplets, but they do not provide the level of protection people think they do. Additionally, he stressed that wearing a mask could also have unintended consequences because people who wear masks tend to touch their face more often to adjust them, which can spread germs from their hands.
The Ohio congressman continued to press Fauci to answer his question about the government limiting protests.
“The government is obviously limiting people from going to church, and look, there’s been no violence that I can see at church,” Jordan pointed out. “I haven’t seen people during a church service go out and harm police officers and burn buildings. But for 63 days—nine weeks—it’s been happening in Portland. One night in Chicago 49 officers were injured. So no limits to protests but boy, you can’t go to church on Sunday!”
Frustrated, Fauci said that he wasn’t going to “opine on limiting anything” regarding government restrictions.
“You’ve opined on a lot of things, Dr. Fauci,” Jordan shot back.
Indeed, Fauci has been a leading proponent of state lockdowns, the closing of “non-essential” businesses and draconian restrictions on church gatherings to stem the spread of the Wuhan virus.
During an appearance on CNN back in April, for instance, Fauci blasted states that were refraining from implementing statewide stay-home orders.
“I don’t understand why that’s not happening,” he opined at the time. “If you look at what’s going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that. We really should be.”
Jordan continued to press Fauci on restricting protests amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the good doctor refused to give him a straight answer.
“I’m not going to opine on limiting anything, I’m telling you what is the danger, and you can make your own conclusion about that,” Fauci said.
Still not satisfied, Jordan noted that the government has stopped people from going to work, citing a case in New Jersey where gym owners were arrested for trying to operate their gym.
Fauci said he would not comment on who is arrested and who isn’t.
When Jordan asked if the White House advisor could at least see the inconsistency, Fauci replied that he did not.
Incredulous, the Ohio Republican repeated his question.
“You’re allowed to protest—millions of people in one day—in crowds, yelling, screaming—but you try to run your business, you get arrested?” Jordan said. “And if you stood outside that same business and protested, you wouldn’t get arrested. You don’t see any inconsistency there?”
Fauci dodged the question by hiding behind his position as a “public health official.”
“I don’t understand what you’re asking me as a public health official to opine on who should get arrested or not. That’s not my position …” he deflected.
“We know the protests increase the spread of the virus, you said that,” Jordan argued.
But Fauci corrected him. “I said crowds. I didn’t say specifically protests do anything.”
“So the protests don’t increase the spread of the virus?” Jordan demanded.
Fauci fired back: “I didn’t say that, you’re putting words in my mouth.”
“I just want an answer to the question, do the protests increase the spread of the virus?” Jordan asked.
“I can tell you that crowds are known, particularly when you don’t have a mask, to increase the acquisition and transmission, no matter what the crowd is,” Fauci replied.
“But do you understand Americans’ concern that protest, particularly according to the Democrats, are just fine, but you can’t got to work, you can’t go to school, you can’t go to church. There’s limits placed on all three of those fundamental activities—First Amendment activities— but protesting’s just fine.”
Can’t go to church.
Can’t go to work.
Can’t go to school.
Even Dr. Fauci says protesting is dangerous.
But Democrats encourage people to riot and protest in the streets. pic.twitter.com/78Dyjkt6D6
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) July 31, 2020
President Trump retweeted Jordan’s video of his questioning, but also had praise for Fauci’s performance at the hearing.