Fauci Hits Back at Critics Like Sen. Ted Cruz: 'What Happened on Jan. 6, Senator?'

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Dr. Fauci, Ted Cruz
Dr. Fauci, Ted Cruz

J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty; Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Anthony Fauci (left), Ted Cruz

Dr. Anthony Fauci slammed Ted Cruz after the Republican senator said the nation's leading infectious disease expert should face federal prosecution over some of his testimony before Congress.

Asked to comment on Cruz's suggestion that he be prosecuted, Dr. Fauci, 80, said to CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday: "I have to laugh at that. I should be prosecuted? What happened on January 6, senator?"

With his comment, Fauci alluded to the fact that Cruz, 50, was one of the leading Republicans who objected to certifying the 2020 election for Joe Biden. The claims of voter fraud amplified by lawmakers including Cruz ultimately helped drive an attempted (and deadly) insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In the same interview, Fauci added: "That's okay. I'm just gonna do my job, and I'm gonna be saving lives, and they're gonna be lying."

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Fauci added that Cruz and others who take aim at him are using him as a scapegoat in an attempt to discredit the science behind things like mask-wearing, social distancing, and vaccines.

"So if they get up and criticize science, nobody's going to know what they're talking about. But if they get up and really aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, well, people could recognize there's a person there," he said. "There's a face, there's a voice you can recognize, you see him on television."

Fauci continued: "To me, that's more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me. I'm not going to be around here forever, but science is going to be here forever. And if you damage science, you are doing something very detrimental to society long after I leave. And that's what I worry about."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Defends the Importance of Wearing Masks to Sen. Rand Paul: 'Here We Go Again'

Cruz — who had earlier said he believes Fauci should be investigated for comments he made to Congress about National Institutes of Health funding of research in Wuhan, China — took to Twitter following the doctor's interview, calling Fauci "an unelected technocrat who has distorted science and facts in order to exercise authoritarian control over millions of Americans."

Cruz in't the only Republican lawmaker with whom Fauci has sparred.

The health official previously had testy exchanges with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, with the two arguing over the push to reopen schools, whether it was safe to relax restrictions on businesses, and why it's necessary for people to be wearing masks after they get vaccinated.

"You're telling everyone to wear a mask," the senator told Fauci. "If we're not spreading the infection, isn't it just theater?"

Fauci, who appeared annoyed at the senator's suggestion, tried to interrupt while Paul questioned the importance of wearing a mask.

"No, it's not—" Fauci said, before letting Paul finish his question.

"Here we go again with the theater," Fauci then responded, brushing Paul off with the wave of his hand. "Let's get down to the facts."