Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) fired back at Mitt Romney on Monday for calling her a “treasonous” Russian propagandist over the weekend, saying that he either needed to prove her wrong or admit he was wrong and resign.
“Tulsi Gabbard is parroting false Russian propaganda,” Romney tweeted. “Her treasonous lies may well cost lives.”
It’s not clear which specific comments from Gabbard to which Romney was referring, but she did claim in a video that she posted to social media over the weekend that there are “25 to 30 U.S.-funded bio labs in Ukraine” that are “conducting research on dangerous pathogens.” In the video, Gabbard called for a ceasefire until the labs could be secured and the pathogens inside the labs destroyed.
Gabbard laid out her case for why what she said was true in a lengthy thread on Twitter, saying that Romney needed to provide evidence for calling her “treasonous.”
“Senator Romney, please provide evidence that what I said is untrue and treasonous,” Gabbard wrote. “If you cannot, you should do the honorable thing: apologize and resign from the Senate.”
“So, Senator Romney, you have a choice: out of pride, continue to deny the truth or admit you are wrong, apologize, and resign. Aloha,” she later added. “And remember that without the truth, we can be neither safe nor free.”
There are biological laboratories in Ukraine, which the World Health Organization has contacted and advised to destroy dangerous pathogens that could escape during war.
“Biosecurity experts say Russia’s movement of troops into Ukraine and bombardment of its cities have raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged,” Reuters reported. “Like many other countries, Ukraine has public health laboratories researching how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans including, most recently, COVID-19. Its labs have received support from the United States, the European Union and the WHO.”
The WHO, a United Nations agency, told Reuters: “As part of this work, WHO has strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills.”
The WHO said that it has already been working with the labs in Ukraine for years to prevent any pathogens from getting accidentally or deliberately released.
Reuters said that the agency made no reference to biowarfare and that the agency had encouraged everyone to operate in “the safe and secure disposal of any pathogens they come across, and to reach out for technical assistance as needed.”
The issue centers around the claim that the labs are involved in “producing or conducting research on biological weapons,” which The New York Times reported has been denied by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.