Sen. Paul spars with Fauci during heated Senate hearing on COVID response

Dr. Tony Fauci, Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), found himself on Capitol Hill in yet another Senate hearing regarding COVID-19, defending what he knew, and didn’t know, about gain-of-function research prior to the pandemic.

According to The Hill, Fauci ripped Sen. Rand Paul for spreading what Fauci believes to be lies regarding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) role in funding a Wuhan, China virology lab where many believe the COVID-19 virus emerged as a result of gain-of-function research. 

“I want to say that officially”

Fauci, who seemed a little more fired up compared to his somewhat consistently calm demeanor, wasn’t buying a paper cited by the Kentucky Republican which he believes proves that the NIH funded the Wuhan lab, which was reportedly researching the creation of “potential pandemic pathogens that exist only in the lab, not in nature.”

Paul’s statements apparently upset Fauci, who insisted that the senator was ignorant on the subject.

“Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, and I want to say that officially,” Fauci said.

The two would go on to point fingers, sometimes literally, back-and-forth over the NIH’s role while also debating what constitutes gain-of-function research, which has a simple definition but as was apparent on Tuesday, is open for interpretation.

“I totally resent the lie you are now propagating, senator,” Fauci said while adding that he believes it’s literally impossible for NIH to be responsible for COVID-19 based on a molecular impossibility.

“It is a crime to lie to Congress”

Paul, obviously not a senator to back down from a fight, especially given his medical background, reminded Fauci, who now serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser in addition to his role at the NIAID, that it’s illegal to lie before Congress.

“Dr. Fauci, as you are aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress. Section 1001 of the U.S. criminal code creates a felony and a five-year penalty for lying to Congress,” Paul said.

The GOP senator added: “On your last trip to our committee, on May 11, you stated that the NIH has not ever and has not now funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. And yet, gain-of-function research was done entirely at the Wuhan institute by Dr. Shi and was funded by the NIH.”

Paul would go on to offer Fauci a chance to retract his previous statements and come clean for the record — an offer that Fauci didn’t take kindly to.

“I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement,” Fauci fired back in response.

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