Rudy Giuliani's so-called star witness, Melissa Carone, is making headlines again for not self-quarantining or getting tested for Covid-19, which she wildly claims was created by Barack Obama in a Wuhan virus lab.
Ms Carone's testimony delivered beside Mr Giuliani in Michigan went viral after she alleged Detroit election workers smuggled in "tens of thousands" of ballots that were scanned twice.
She received millions of views, her own Saturday Night Live parody and very likely a high dose of Covid-19 after delivering her testimony for 30 minutes next to Mr Giuliani, who has since tested positive for the virus.
In a series of interviews this week, Ms Carone said she's not worried about contracting the virus and made bizarre and unsubstantiated claims that it was created in the Wuhan Institute of Virology with funding from the Obama administration.
“I would take it seriously if it came from Trump, because Trump cares about American lives,” Ms Carone told The Washington Post, adding that if Trump-supporting networks like as One America News or Newsmax “told me to go get tested, I would do it”.
“It is not that I don’t believe in getting tested. I don’t trust the tests,” she said.
In a separate interview published on the website of former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Ms Carone claimed she has binders full of evidence that Dominion Voting Systems cheated to oust Mr Trump in a plot that began with the Obamas creating the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is what they do to Trump,” Ms Carone said in the interview, which has since been removed from www.sarahpalin.com but can still be read in this archived version.
“This started with Covid. The Obamas funded that Wuhan lab to make Covid. Then the impeachment process. They’ve used every avenue possible to cheat, they used Dominion. Dominion software was created to cheat. I have a binder from Dominion that proves this. There’s so much more that will be exposed,” she said despite providing no evidence whatsoever for her claims.
Ms Carone appears to be referencing claims that began at the start of the pandemic, and were since repeated by both Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani, that the US National Institutes of Health gave $3.7m in grants to the Wuhan virology lab to study coronavirus in bats during the Obama presidency.
The source of this claim came from an 11 April story in The Mail on Sunday citing documents that showed scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology experimented on bats, from caves that believed to be the source of the outbreak, as part of a project funded by the US National Institutes of Health.
The origin hypothesis was amplified when a reporter from Newsmax asked Mr Trump about The Mail's report during a White House press conference on 17 April.
"The Obama administration gave them a grant of $3.7 million? I’ve been hearing about that. And we’ve instructed that if any grants are going to that area – we’re looking at it, literally, about an hour ago, and also early in the morning. We will end that grant very quickly," Mr Trump said in response.
"But it was granted quite a while ago. They were granted a substantial amount of money. We’re going to look at it and take a look. But I understand it was a number of years ago, right?... 2015? Who was president then? I wonder."
Mr Giuliani stoked the idea in a tweet asking if Mr Obama granted an exception to providing prohibited grants to the Chinese laboratory.
The claims were widely investigated at the time, with PolitiFact and BuzzFeed News confirming the origin of funding to the Whuan laboratory – to the tune of $598,500 over five years – via a nonprofit called EcoHealth Alliance.
The report said Dr Anthony Fauci's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease backed a project by the EcoHealth Alliance in China's Yunnan province where they found bats containing viruses similar to Sars.
Samples from the bats were sent to the Wuhan laboratory for genetic analyses of the viruses collected in the field, according to PolitiFact.
"We collect bat samples, send them to the lab. We RELEASE bats where we catch them!" EcoHealth president Peter Daszak told The Independent in response on Twitter.
While the National Institutes of Health shows $3.4m given to EcoHealth Alliance over six years, the group's spokesman Robert Kessler told the outlet that the Wuhan lab received just under $600,000. Of that, $265,000 went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology during the Trump administration.
On 27 April, Politico reported the Trump administration abruptly cut off the NIH funding to the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, and they would have to stop spending the $369,819 remaining from its $1.5m 2020 grant.
An NIH spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in April that the funding to EcoHealth Alliance went to research at the Wuhan Institute as well as Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore to "support research that aims to understand what factors allow coronaviruses, including close relatives to Sars, to evolve and jump into the human population and cause disease (called a spillover event)”.
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