Republican Sen. Tom Cotton called revelations that Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared to have lied about “gain-of-function” research at a Chinese lab at the center of the coronavirus pandemic “one of the biggest scandals in Washington” and said the infectious disease expert should be investigated and prosecuted.
Sen. Rand Paul, who has sparred with Fauci over funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology in several congressional hearings, said he should be removed immediately because of his “poor judgment.”
“He should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Cotton (R-Ark.) told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham Tuesday night.
“You know for 18 months he’s been saddling up his moral high horse and plucking his tongue at college kids who want to go celebrate a football game at an outdoor stadium on a nice fall day or parents who don’t want their kindergarteners to have to work masks their entire lives, telling you you have to work very mask, when all along, he’s been lying, not just in Congress, but to the American people about his role in funding the very reckless and dangerous research at a Chinese communist lab that unleashed this pandemic on the world,” Cotton continued.
“It is a disgrace, and it’s time for Tony Facui to be held accountable,” he said.
Ingraham asked how he would rate the developments.
“One of the biggest scandals in Washington modern times, and they funded a laboratory that in all likelihood is the source of this once-in-a-century pandemic that has upended so many of our lives. Hundreds of thousands of people dead,” Cotton said.
He noted that many more people have become seriously ill, kids have lost critical time in the classroom, weddings have been postponed, jobs have been lost and businesses have shuttered.
Paul (R-Ky.) said Fauci must be removed now for violating the public trust.
“He has lied dozens of times. Usually he tells us that it’s for our own good. But, yes, he has dissembled, he has obfuscated … but he has definitely lied to the American public, and he should be held responsible,” Paul said on Fox News’ “Hannity” Tuesday.
“But not just that – the judgment that we should continue to fund this lab and that the virus in all likelihood came from the lab – I think it’s such an incredibly poor judgment that he should be immediately removed,” he continued.
A report by The Intercept, citing newly released documents, appears to contradict Fauci’s claims that the National Institute of Health did not fund gain-of-function research at the lab.
Gain-of-function involves increasing the transmissibility of a virus to predict what new diseases could emerge and to develop vaccines and therapeutic to treat them.
The documents show a grant proposal that EcoHealth Alliance filed with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the agency Fauci runs.
The grant proposal was for a project entitled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergency” and involved screening thousands of bat samples and people who worked with animals for novel coronaviruses, the report said.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology received $599,000 for bat coronavirus research after the grant won $3.1 million in funding over a five-year period between 2014 and 2019. The Trump administration ended the funding in April 2020.
The proposal pointed out the high risks involved in conducting such research.
“Fieldwork involves the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs, while working in caves with high bat density overhead and the potential for fecal dust to be inhaled,” it said.
Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, said the documents show that Fauci had been “untruthful” about gain-of-function research.
“The documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful,” Ebright said.
Fauci and Paul clashed during a Senate hearing in July after the senator reminded the scientist that lying to Congress is a felony.
Paul asked Fauci if he wanted to retract a statement from May in which he denied the NIH funded gain-of-function research at the lab.
“Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement. This paper that you’re referring to was judged by qualified staff, up and down the chain, as not being gain-of-function,” Fauci replied.
A report President Biden ordered the US intelligence community to conduct to determine if COVID had been transmitted to humans by animals or whether it escaped a lab was inconclusive.