Senator Rand Paul has outlined his intentions to ask the Department of Justice for a criminal referral for Dr Anthony Fauci as the Kentucky Republican lawmaker accused the nation’s foremost infectious disease expert of lying to Congress.
Mr Paul said this to host Fox News Sean Hannity after Dr Fauci answered questions at a hearing on Tuesday held by the Senate Health, Education, Labour and Pensions Committee about the Covid pandemic. Their exchange grew heated as Dr Fauci provided testimony.
Mr Paul accused Dr Fauci, the director of US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of lying to Congress, a belief he still holds.
“I will be sending a letter to Department of Justice asking for a criminal referral, because he has lied to Congress. We have scientists that will line up by the dozens to say that the research he was funding was gain-of-function,” Mr Paul said, referring to an accusation that the United States government provided funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, from which some believe Covid escaped into the world.
He continued, “He’s doing this because he has a self interest to cover his tracks and to cover his connection to Wuhan lab.”
Gain-of-function refers to research scientists conduct on a virus in an effort to develop vaccines and other medical tools.
During the Senate hearing on 20 July, Dr Fauci grew increasingly frustrated with Mr Paul, telling the senator he was ill-informed about the topic at hand.
“Senator Paul, 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… If anybody is lying here, it is you,” he said.
Democrat Tina Smith, a Senator representing Minnesota, later asked Dr Fauci what he would say to “counteract these attack on your integrity that we’ve all just witnessed?”
He replied, “This is a pattern that Senator Paul has been doing now at multiple hearings based on no reality. He was talking about gain-of-function, this has been evaluated multiple times by qualified people to not fall under the gain-of-function definition. I have not lied before Congress. I have never lied. Certainly not before Congress. Case closed.”
Dr Fauci also warned about the Delta variant currently sweeping across the nation. He testified that 80 per cent of cases were believed to be the new strain that was first identified in India, before going on to stress that being fully vaccinated prevented death and hospitalisation by 90 per cent.
Many conservative figures have pushed the idea that the coronavirus was let out of a lab in Wuhan since the early days of the pandemic in 2020.
In May, President Joe Biden ordered a new investigation into the origins of the coronavirus as federal intelligence agencies said they were unable to conclusively prove where it had come from, despite a previous joint investigation between the World Health Organisation and China ruling out the lab theory.
Covid has so far led to the deaths of more than 4 million people across the world. According to data from the New York Times, more than 609,000 of those deaths have been US residents.
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