A heated exchange occurred on Tuesday night after Republican Sen. Rand Paul announced he is referring Dr. Anthony Fauci to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation – after Fauci reportedly lied to Congress.
Fauci, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the chief medical advisor to the president, could face up to five years in prison if found guilty of the felony charge.
Paul began the tense exchange by implying that Fauci perjured himself when he last testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on May 11.
“Dr. Fauci, as you are aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress,” Paul said, adding that such is a felony punishable by up to five years in jail. “On your last trip to our committee on May 11, you stated that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
Referencing a paper by Dr. Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Virology Lab, which claimed the NIH did, in fact, fund her research into SARS-related coronaviruses, Paul asked, “Knowing it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement?”
“Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement,” a visibly angry Fauci responded. “This paper that you are referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain-of-function.”
Paul later interjected: “You take an animal virus and you increase transmissibility to human, you’re saying that is not gain-of-function?”
“That is correct,” Fauci replied, then lashed out at Paul himself. “Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about!”
Paul went on to allege that Fauci is dancing around the definition of “gain-of-function research” to “obscure responsibility” for the pandemic.
“We don’t know,” Paul said of the origins of the virus. “We don’t know if it did come from the lab, but all the evidence is pointing that it came from the lab, and there will be responsibility for those who funded the lab, including yourself.”
“I totally resent that,” a clearly shaken Fauci shot back. “If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you.”
Paul later tweeted the paper he entered into the record, writing, “MIT biologist Kevin Esvelt reviewed this paper that was published with financial assistance from Dr. Fauci’s NIH/NIAID and concluded ‘certain techniques that the researchers used seemed to meet the definition of gain-of-function.’”
A $3.4 million grant was given by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), the part of the NIH run by Fauci, to EcoHealth Alliance in 2014.
EcoHealth Alliance paid the lab in Wuhan $598,500 over five years, according to PolitiFact, which also reported “all parties involved in the grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology have denied that it involved gain-of-function research.”
Josh Rogin, a columnist at The Washington Post, summarized the exchange between Fauci and Paul by writing on Twitter: “Hey guys, @RandPaul was right and Fauci was wrong. The NIH was funding gain of function research in Wuhan but NIH pretended it didn’t meet their ‘gain of function’ definition to avoid their own oversight mechanism. SorryNotSorry if that doesn’t fit your favorite narrative.”
Author: Ruben Gonzalez