Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul clashed with Dr. Anthony Fauci in a Capitol Hill hearing, accusing him of lying about gain-of-function research funding.
Paul questioned Fauci during Tuesday’s hearing and immediately framed his line of attack by reminding Fauci that it was a crime to lie to Congress – and the exchange only got more heated from there. (RELATED: ‘Dr. Fauci Needs To Put Up Or Shut Up’: Rand Paul Says Experts Need To Give Evidence For Post-Vaccine Mask Edicts)
“Dr. Fauci, as you are aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress,” Paul began, noting that such a crime was a felony that could carry a five-year sentence.
“Viruses that in nature only infect animals were manipulated in the Wuhan lab to gain the function of infecting humans. 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,” Paul continued.
“Dr. Fauci, knowing it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish retract your statement?” he asked, arguing that NIH funding had, in fact, been used to support such research.
Yes, Dr. Fauci’s NIH did fund the Wuhan Virology Lab. Here’s the verbatim admission from their chief scientist Dr. Shi Zhengli. pic.twitter.com/wk5mzeLWHR
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 20, 2021
“Sen. Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement,” Fauci replied, saying that “qualified” people had determined it did not meet the definition of gain-of-function.
“You take an animal virus and you increase transmissibility to human, you’re saying that is not gain of function,” Paul protested.
“Sen. Paul, you do not know what you are taking about, quite frankly and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about,” Fauci said.
Paul pushed back again, arguing that it did meet the definition written by the NIH.
“It is not,” Fauci said.
“It is a dance, and you’re dancing around this because you’re trying to obscure responsibility for four million people dying around the world from a pandemic,” Paul replied.
He went on to quote Dr. Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist from Rutgers, who said, “The Wuhan lab used NIH funding to construct novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses able to infect human cells and laboratory animals. …This is high-risk research that creates new potential pandemic pathogens (i.e., potential pandemic pathogens that exist only in a lab, not in nature). This research matches — indeed epitomizes — the definition of ‘gain of function research of concern’ for which federal funding was ‘paused’ in 2014-2017.”
“I totally resent the lie that you are now propagating, Senator,” Fauci shot back, arguing — as have a number of other experts — that it was impossible for the viruses in that lab to be manipulated into what was eventually named SARS-COV2. University of Iowa professor Dr. Stanley Perlman argued that the research in Wuhan did not represent “intentional gain of function.”
“They’re animal viruses that became more transmissible in humans and you funded it,” Paul said again as his time expired.
“And you are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individual — I totally resent that,” Fauci said.
“It could have been,” Paul continued.
“If anybody’s lying here, Senator, it is you,” Fauci shot back.
Democratic Minnesota Tina Smith took the floor then, and began her time by offering Fauci one more chance to rebut Paul’s accusations against “attacks on his integrity.”
“Senator, thank you. I don’t have anything further to say. This is a pattern that Sen. Paul has been doing now at multiple hearings based on no reality,” Fauci said. “I have not lied. Case closed.”
The grant in question was reportedly awarded not directly by the NIH but through a third party, the EcoHealth Alliance, resulting in that particular grant not being reviewed by the Potential Pandemic Pathogens Control and Oversight (P3CO) Framework within the Department of Health and Human Services. NIAID, which is led by Fauci, funded EcoHealth Alliance to study bat-based coronaviruses in China that included the transfer of $600,000 to the WIV.
“After careful review of the grant, NIAID determined research in the grant was not gain-of-function research because it did not involve the enhancement of the pathogenicity or transmissibility of the viruses studied,” an NIH spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Some experts say the NIH grant describes scientists conducting gain-of-function research, a risky area of study that, in this case, made SARS-like viruses even more contagious.
Fauci has referred to the EcoHealth Alliance’s contributions in Wuhan as “a very minor collaboration as part of a subcontract of a grant,” adding, “We had a collaboration with some Chinese scientists … He conflated that … therefore we were involved in creating the virus, which is the most ridiculous, majestic leap I’ve ever heard of.”
Fauci and Paul have clashed on a number of occasions on both this specific issue and others.