The decade's most triggering comedy
Dr. Anthony Fauci lashed out at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Tuesday for suggesting he lied to Congress when he claimed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) never funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan.
Paul began the tense exchange by implying that Fauci perjured himself when he last testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on May 11.
“Dr. Fauci, as you are aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress,” Paul said, adding that such is a felony punishable by up to five years in jail. “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.”
Referencing a paper by Dr. Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Virology Lab, which claimed the NIH did, in fact, fund her research into SARS-related coronaviruses, Paul asked, “Knowing it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement?”
“Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement,” a visibly angry Fauci responded. “This paper that you are referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain-of-function.”
Paul later interjected: “You take an animal virus and you increase transmissibility to human, you’re saying that is not gain-of-function?”
“That is correct,” Fauci replied, then lashed out at Paul himself. “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!”
Paul went on to allege that Fauci is dancing around the definition of “gain-of-function research” to “obscure responsibility” for the pandemic.
“We don’t know,” Paul said of the origins of the virus. “We don’t know if it did come from the lab, but all the evidence is pointing that it came from the lab, and there will be responsibility for those who funded the lab, including yourself.”
“I totally resent that,” Fauci shot back. “If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you.”
WATCH: Complete exchange between Dr. Anthony Fauci and Senator @RandPaul.
Dr. Fauci: "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." pic.twitter.com/2wFbAxicI2
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 20, 2021
Paul later tweeted the paper he entered into the record, writing, “MIT biologist Kevin Esvelt reviewed this paper that was published with financial assistance from Dr. Fauci’s NIH/NIAID and concluded ‘certain techniques that the researchers used seemed to meet the definition of gain-of-function.'”
MIT biologist Kevin Esvelt reviewed this paper that was published with financial assistance from Dr. Fauci’s NIH/NIAID and concluded “certain techniques that the researchers used seemed to meet the definition of gain-of-function”
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 20, 2021
FactCheck.org, which has covered the funding controversy in the past, previously reported that the answer to whether or not NIH funding was directed to the Wuhan lab and used to further gain-of-function research “depends on whom you ask and their definition of gain-of-function.” (Read the full report here.) The funding claim revolves around a six-figure grant that NIH provided to a group called EcoHealth Alliance, which in turn, directed money toward a Wuhan Institute of Virology project.
As The Daily Wire reported in May regarding Fauci’s committee testimony to which Paul referred:
After expressing skepticism regarding the consensus explanation that the virus emerged naturally in Chinese wet markets, Paul claimed the National Institute of Health (NIH) funded the Wuhan lab’s gain-of-function research, which is a form of study that attempts to render pathogens more infectious and lethal.
“Dr. Fauci, do you still support funding of the NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan?” Paul asked Fauci.
“Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely, entirely and completely incorrect,” Fauci replied. “The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
Paul then pointed to a $3.4 million grant that the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), the part of the NIH run by Fauci, gave to EcoHealth Alliance in 2014.
EcoHealth Alliance paid the lab in Wuhan $598,500 over five years, according to PolitiFact, which also reported “all parties involved in the grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology have denied that it involved gain-of-function research.”
This article has been expanded after publication to include additional information.