Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) got into a heated exchange with Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday while discussing the impact the nationwide protests have had on the spread of COVID-19.
During the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing, Jordan grilled Fauci on whether the last two months of protests have spread the coronavirus.
"Crowding together, particularly when you're not wearing a mask, contributes to spreading the virus," Fauci said when asked about protests spreading COVID-19.
Jordan then asked Fauci, "Should the government limit the protesting?"
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases replied, "I don't think that's relevant. I'm not in a position to determine what the government can do in a forceful way."
"You make all kinds of recommendations," Jordan retorted. "You've made comments on dating, on baseball, on everything you can imagine."
Jordan also cited the Supreme Court's decision to reject a Nevada church's request to be subjected to the same COVID-19 restrictions that the state's casinos, restaurants, amusement parks, and other businesses must abide by.
"But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in response to the 5-4 decision.
Jordan questioned, "Is there a world where the Constitution says you can favor one First Amendment liberty — protesting — over another — practicing your faith?"
"I'm not favoring anybody over anybody," Fauci responded. "I'm just making a statement that's a broad statement, that avoid crowds of any type, no matter where you are, because that leads to the acquisition and transmission. And I don't judge one crowd versus another crowd. When you're in a crowd, particularly if you're not wearing a mask, that induces the spread."
"I haven't seen people during a church service go out and harm police officers or burn buildings, but we know that for 63 days, nine weeks, it's been happening in Portland," Jordan said of nationwide protests. "One night in Chicago, 49 officers were injured. But no limit to protests, but, boy, you can't go to church on Sunday."
"I don't know how many times I can answer that," Fauci replied. "I'm not going to opine on limiting anything."
"You've opined on a lot of things, Dr. Fauci," Jordan responded. "This is something that directly impacts the spread of the virus."
"You should stay away from crowds, no matter where the crowds are," Fauci said during the combative parley.
Jordan mentioned the recent arrest of the owners of the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey. They were arrested on Monday for opening their business, which defied the lockdown order of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D).
"Government has stopped people from going to work," Jordan continued. "Do you see the inconsistency though, Dr. Fauci?"
"There's no inconsistency congressman," Fauci retorted.
"So you're allowed to protest — millions of people on one day, in crowds, yelling, screaming — but you try to run your business, you get arrested?" Jordan asked. "And if you stood right outside of that same business and protested you wouldn't get arrested?"
"I don't understand what you're asking me, as a public health official, to opine on who should get arrested or not," Fauci responded. "That's not my position. You could ask me as much as you want, and I'm not going to answer it."
When Jordan pressed Fauci on whether protests help spread coronavirus, the health official said, "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."
"So the protests don't increase the spread of the virus?" Jordan said.
"I didn't say that," a visibly perturbed Fauci said. "You're putting words in my mouth."
Can’t go to church. Can’t go to work. Can’t go to school. Even Dr. Fauci says protesting is dangerous. But Democ… https://t.co/w2Yqui4tJE— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Rep. Jim Jordan)1596207820.0
President Donald Trump retweeted the video of Jordan clashing with Fauci.
"Great job by Jim Jordan, and also some very good statements by Tony Fauci," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Big progress being made!"
Last month, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) butted heads with Fauci over what he called the politicization of the COVID-19 response, especially the reopening of schools.
Also during Friday's hearing, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who chairs the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, asked Fauci why the U.S. has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than Europe.
Fauci said the U.S. did not shut down at the same level that Europe did.
Rep. Clyburn pushed Dr. Fauci to explain why Europe was able to contain the virus and the U.S. was not. His answer:… https://t.co/LSJIETvNo3— NowThis (@NowThis)1596204457.0
President Trump responded on Twitter.
"Somebody please tell Congressman Clyburn, who doesn't have a clue, that the chart he put up indicating more CASES for the U.S. than Europe, is because we do MUCH MORE testing than any other country in the World," Trump wrote. "If we had no testing, or bad testing, we would show very few CASES."
"Our massive testing capability, rather than being praised, is used by the Lamestream Media and their partner, the Do Nothing Radical Left Democrats, as a point of scorn," the president continued. "This testing, and what we have so quickly done, is used as a Fake News weapon. Sad!"
You can watch Friday's entire congressional hearing below.
Select Subcommittee Hearing "The Urgent Need for a National Plan to Contain the Coronavirus" youtu.be