Sen. Rand Paul plans to contact the Department of Justice about criminally investigating Dr. Anthony Fauci for allegedly lying to lawmakers, the Kentucky Republican said late Tuesday.
“I’ll be sending a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a criminal referral because he has lied to Congress,” Mr. Paul said about Dr. Fauci during an evening appearance on Fox News.
Speaking to host Sean Hannity, Mr. Paul claimed that Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), had lied about funding so-called “gain-of-function research.”
Gain-of-function research often involves manipulating viruses to make them more infectious. Some believe the coronavirus may have originated due to such an experiment, but its origins remain unclear.
Mr. Paul alleges that Dr. Fauci lied when he previously denied NIAID’s parent agency, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China, where the virus first appeared.
Both men clashed over the claim during a Senate hearing earlier Tuesday.
“Knowing it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11 where you claimed that the NIH never funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan,” Mr. Paul asked in the hearing.
“Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement,” Dr. Fauci responded.
“Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially,” Dr. Fauci added. “You do not know what you are talking about”
Appearing on Fox News several hours later, Mr. Paul asserted still that NIH funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, contrary to Dr. Fauci maintaining otherwise.
“Now does he deserve all the blame? No. There’s still some conjecture as to whether or not it came from the lab. But he‘s lying about whether or not he funded gain-of-function research and yes he should be punished,” Mr. Paul said about Dr. Fauci.
More than 4 million people worldwide have died from COVID-19, the contagious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, since the first cases were reported in Wuhan in late December 2019.
The origins of the coronavirus remain under investigation. The Biden administration has said U.S. intelligence officials believe it likely originated from human contact with animals or a lab accident.