Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced on Tuesday night, July 20, that he is referring Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the president’s chief medical advisor, to the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation after Fauci allegedly lied to Congress.

“You kicked off your questioning of Dr. Fauci emphasizing federal law makes lying to Congress a felony punishable by up to five years in prison,” Fox News anchor Sean Hannity said to Paul during a Tuesday night interview, Daily Wire reported. “Is it your belief based on the evidence, senator, that he lied before Congress and broke the law?”

“Yes, and I will be sending a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a criminal referral because he has lied to Congress,” Paul replied.

Paul’s comments come after the two had an emotional exchange during a Senate hearing, in which Fauci looked to be physically shaking with rage.

The answer to whether or not NIH funds were directed to the Wuhan lab and used to support gain-of-function research “depends on whom you ask and their definition of gain-of-function,” according to FactCheck.org, which has previously covered the funding debate. The funding assertion is based on a six-figure donation from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to a group named EcoHealth Alliance, which then routed funds to a Wuhan Institute of Virology research.

Video of the exchange:

Transcript of the exchange featured below:

PAUL: Dr. Fauci, as you are aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress. Section 1.0.0.1 of the US Criminal Code creates a felony and a five-year penalty for lying to Congress. On your last trip to our committee on May 11th, you stated that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. And yet, gain of function research was done entirely in the Wuhan Institute by Dr. Shi and was funded by the NIH. I’d like to ask unanimous consent insert into the record the Wuhan virology paper entitled Discovery of a Rich Gene Pool of Bat SARS Related Coronaviruses. Please deliver a copy of the journal article to Dr. Fauci.

In this paper, Dr. Shi credits the NIH and lists the actual number of the grant that she was given by the NIH. In this paper, she took two bat coronavirus genes, spike genes, and combined them with a SARS related backbone to create new viruses that are not found in nature. These lab created viruses were then to shown to replicate in humans. These experiments combined genetic information from different coronaviruses that infect animals, but not humans, to create novel artificial viruses able to infect human cells. Viruses that in nature only infect animals were manipulated in the Wuhan lab to gain the function of infecting humans. This research fits the definition of the research that the NIH said was subject to the pause in 2014 to 2017, a pause in funding on gain of function, but the NIH failed to recognize this, defines it away, and it never came under any scrutiny. Dr. Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist from Rutgers, described this research in Wuhan as the Wuhan lab used NIH funding to construct novel chimeric SARS related to coronaviruses able to infect human cells and laboratory animals. This is high risk research that creates new potential pandemic pathogens, potential pandemic pathogens that exist only in the lab, not in nature. This research matches … these are Dr. Ebright’s words. This research matches, indeed epitomizes the definition of gain of function research, done entirely in Wuhan, for which there was supposed to be a federal pause. Dr. Fauci, knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11th, where you claimed that the NIH never funded gains of function research in Wuhan.

FAUCI: Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement. This paper that you were referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function. What was … let me finish!

PAUL: You take an animal virus and you increase its transmissibility to humans. You’re saying that’s not gain of function?

FAUCI: Yeah, that is correct. And 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, okay? You get one person … can I answer?

PAUL: This is your definition that you guys wrote. It says that scientific research that increases the transmissibility among animals is gain of function. They took animal viruses that only occur in animals, and they increased their transmissibility to humans. How you can say that is not gain of function –

FAUCI: It is not.

PAUL: It’s a dance, and you’re dancing around this because you’re trying to obscure responsibility for 4 million people dying around the world from a pandemic.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): Let’s let Dr. Fauci –

FAUCI: I have to … well, now you’re getting into something. If the point that you are making is that the grant that was funded as a sub award from EcoHealth to Wuhan created SARS- CoV-2, that’s where you were getting. Let me finish.

PAUL: We don’t know.

FAUCI: Wait a minute.

PAUL: We don’t know that it didn’t 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.

FAUCI: I totally resent –

MURRAY: This committee will allow the witness to respond.

FAUCI: I totally resent the lie that you are now propagating, senator, because if you look at the viruses that were used in the experiments that were given in the annual reports that were published in the literature, it is molecularly impossible.

PAUL: No one’s saying those viruses caused it. No one is –

FAUCI: It is molecularly –

PAUL: – saying that those viruses caused the pandemic. What we’re alleging is the gain of function research was going on in that lab and NIH funded it.

FAUCI: That is not –

PAUL: You can’t get away from it. It meets your definition and you are obfuscating the truth.

FAUCI: I am not obfuscating the truth. You are the one –

MURRAY: Senator Paul, your time has expired, but I will allow the witness to –

FAUCI: Let me just finish. I want everyone to understand that if you look at those viruses, and that’s judged by qualified virologists and evolutionary biologists, those viruses are molecularly impossible to result –

PAUL: No one’s saying they are. No one’s saying those viruses caused the pandemic.

MURRAY: Senator Paul –

PAUL: We’re saying they are gain of function viruses, because they were animal viruses that became more transmissible in human and you funded it. And you won’t admit the truth.

FAUCI: And you implying –

MURRAY: Senator Paul, your time has expired, and I will allow witnesses who come before this committee to respond.

FAUCI: And you are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individual. I totally resent that.

PAUL: It could have been. It could have been.

FAUCI: And if anybody is lying here, senator it is you.

The theory that the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology rather than developing in nature or spreading from animals to people has gained more traction in recent months. 

According to CNN, a growing number of White House officials are in favor of the “lab leak theory.” President Joe Biden issued an order in May directing intelligence services to conduct a 90-day examination of any evidence related to the pandemic’s origins.

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