Fireworks erupted during a congressional hearing last week when Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of lying to Congress about the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) role in funding gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
“This research fits the definition of the research the NIH said was subject to the pause in 2014 to 2017, a pause in funding on gain of function. But the NIH failed to recognize this, defines it away, and it never came under any scrutiny,” Sen. Paul said.
“Dr. Fauci, knowing it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement?,” referring to Fauci’s previous testimony on May 11 that the NIH never funded such research.
“Sen. Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement,” Fauci replied, saying that it “was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function.”
“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,” Fauci would later retort. (RELATED: HHS Sends Heavily Redacted Fauci Emails After FOIA Lawsuit)
Sen. Paul would later say during an appearance with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he would be sending a letter to the DOJ asking for a criminal referral into Fauci.
Many Democrats and members of the media immediately defended Dr. Fauci. Democratic Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith followed up Sen. Paul’s questioning by asking Fauci to respond to “attacks against his integrity.”
But others were not convinced, notably Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin, who said in a tweet that “Rand Paul was right and Fauci was wrong.”
“It doesn’t matter which ‘gain of function’ definition you prefer. What everyone can now see clearly is that NIH was collaborating on risky research with a Chinese lab that has zero transparency and zero accountability during a crisis — and no one in a position of power addressed that risk. Fauci is arguing the system worked. It didn’t,” Rogin would later write in a column for the Post.
“Fauci also told Paul there’s no possibility the research in the paper Paul cited directly led to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but Paul correctly called this out as a straw man,” Rogin continued. “That specific project was only one element of the U.S. government multiagency effort that for years pumped U.S. money and know-how into these Wuhan labs, via the EcoHealth Alliance.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation has reported extensively on how the NIH awarded a grant to the nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance, which was then given to the Wuhan lab to study Chinese bat coronaviruses. (RELATED: Media Downplayed Or Ignored These 8 Lab Leak Theory Facts For Over A Year)
Federal funding for gain-of-function research was temporarily suspended in 2014 due to the risks of a supercharged virus leaking into the human population but was later resumed in 2017 after the Potential Pandemic Pathogens Control and Oversight (P3CO) Framework was established in order to provide oversight.
But the grant NIH awarded to EcoHealth Alliance was never reviewed by the P3CO Framework, meaning that taxpayer dollars were given to the Wuhan lab without being scrutinized by an HHS oversight board.
“This is a systemic problem,” Rutgers University professor of chemical biology Richard H. Ebright told the DCNF, adding that the NIH has “systematically thwarted–indeed systematically nullified – the HHS P3CO Framework by declining to flag and forward proposals for review.”
The research Dr. Fauci denies as being gain of function “matches, indeed epitomizes the definition,” Ebright also told National Review in May.
EchoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak has also been heavily criticized for his public statements in 2020 downplaying the theory that COVID-19 could have originated from a lab in Wuhan. Daszak thanked Dr. Fauci in an April 2020 email for publicly throwing cold water on the lab leak theory.
Dr. Ebright has been highly critical of Dr. Fauci and others who downplayed the lab leak theory. “All evidence available today was available twelve months ago, and most evidence available today was available fifteen months ago,” he told the Daily Caller in May.
“All that has changed is that the small group that seized control of the narrative in February 2020 and deceived the public and policy-makers for fifteen months now has lost control of the narrative,” Ebright continued.
It remains unclear whether the grants from NIH in question led to the creation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but what is true is that Dr. Fauci is attempting to hide behind technicalities in order to absolve his agency’s role in funding research into dangerous bat-borne coronaviruses in China. (RELATED: Dr. Fauci Is In An All Out Media Blitz To Rescue His Image)
His allies in the media and Democratic party will continue defending him but as Rogin said clearly: “Rand Paul is right and Dr. Fauci is wrong.”