Dr. Anthony Fauci faced off with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) during a Tuesday Senate hearing that witnessed Paul threatening Fauci with imprisonment for “lying” to Congress — over Fauci’s dismayed protestations.
The exchange took place during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on the issue of whether the National Institutes of Health funded gain-of-function research — which aims to make viruses more infectious — in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. A May 24 story in The Wall Street Journal noted the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — which Fauci heads — did indeed provide a research grant related to the research.
“Dr. Fauci, as you are aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress,” Paul said as he kicked off his questions for Fauci, emphasizing that federal law makes lying to Congress a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. “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,” he added. Citing research that was conducted in the Wuhan lab and asking that a copy of the WSJ article be given to Fauci, Paul asked, “Knowing it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement?”
Fauci replied, “I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement.” He also said the research in question “was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain-of-function.”
Paul attempted to interject, leading Fauci to respond, “Let me finish!” Undeterred, Paul finished his statement asking, “You take an animal virus and you increase transmissibility to human, you’re saying that is not gain of function?”
“That is correct,” Fauci answered, before becoming personal. “Senator Paul, you do not know what you’re talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you’re talking about!”
Paul made the point that the research was in fact related to increasing viral transmissibility, but Fauci insisted that was not technically gain-of-function research. “If the point that you are making is that the grant that was funded as a sub-award … created SARS-Covid-2 — that’s where you are going!” Fauci said, pointing his finger at Paul as it visibly shook in anger.
“You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals,” Fauci said. Paul insisted it “could have” been, prompting Fauci to say, “I totally resent that. If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you.”
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