Fox News Guest Says Fauci Being Used As 'Punching Bag' by Trump and Allies

A Fox News commentator said former President Donald Trump and his allies were using Dr. Anthony Fauci as a "punching bag" to "deflect from their failures" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has recently come under renewed GOP fire after internal emails were published by The Washington Post and BuzzFeed.

The trove of emails includes a group of experts raising the possibility of the virus being engineered in their correspondence with Fauci. The same team later stated they did not "believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible" in an article for a peer-reviewed journal.

Speaking to a "Fox News Sunday" panel, host Chris Wallace—who has defended Fauci amid the controversy—questioned Marie Harf, a former State Department spokesperson during Barack Obama's administration, on reactions to Trump's previous speculations over the virus' origins.

Wallace spoke of a Republican argument about a "knee-jerk reaction" from Democrats and media outlets to "dismiss" Trump's claims over the virus being possibly leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

Harf responded by stating "a lot of things" Trump said "weren't true," which damaged his credibility in the eyes of Americans.

"He also talked about [COVID] in a way that many people found offensive, borderline racist—not even just borderline, outright racist—and also used it as a tactic to deflect from his own administration's responsibility," she said.

"I think what's important that's happened in the past few weeks is the Intelligence Community did something really smart," Harf continued. "They pulled back the curtain that said, 'There are two working theories, some of our analysts believe one and some believe the other, both are low-confidence and we're going to dig back into all of that information that we have from the last year to see if we can get some more clarity.'

"Not trusting politicians, but having the experts say, 'Here's what we know and here's what we don't know.'"

Harf also referred to comments made by former Trump aide Cory Lewandowski during a separate "Fox News Sunday" interview. Lewandowski had called for a commission to investigate the origins of the virus, as well as its deadly impact in the U.S.

"Every Democrat I know probably heard that and said, 'Fine, yes,'" Harf said.

"Dr. Fauci did what he could to save American lives with incomplete information and the Trump administration and his allies are using Dr. Fauci as a punching bag today to deflect from their failures," Harf concluded.

Fauci, a favorite target for GOP ire throughout the pandemic, has faced fierce criticism and calls for his dismissal since the email dump. Another revelation that stirred controversy was Fauci questioning the effectiveness of store-bought masks, statements he made before the Centers for Disease Control updated its guidelines to strongly recommend wearing face coverings.

Trump has taken the opportunity to wage fresh attacks on the credibility of Fauci, who worked alongside his administration throughout its pandemic response.

Republican members of Congress such as Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Marco Rubio have also condemned Fauci, with Gaetz accusing the country's top infectious diseases expert of having "blood on his hands."

President Joe Biden has defended Fauci, stating he remains "very confident" in his chief medical adviser.

Anthony Fauci attends a Senate hearing
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee hearing looking into the budget estimates for National Institute of Health (NIH) and state of medical research on Capitol Hill, May 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. Sarah Silbiger/Pool/Getty Images