Republicans demand Fauci testify before House committees, say they want access to unedited versions of emails released this week as they investigate China’s lab leak theory
- Reps Steve Scalise and James Comer have written to their Democratic counterparts demanding Fauci answer more questions
- They said his newly released emails raise new questions about whether COVID-19 leaked from a US-funded Chinese lab
- “The American people have a right to know what our government knew about the origin of the pandemic,” they said
- Previously, Donald Trump said the emails showed that he had been right all along about the Wuhan lab at the center of the lab leak hypothesis
- And he said that China should pay ten trillion dollars
Republicans on Thursday put their pressure on Dr. Anthony Fauci demanded access to his unedited emails and asked him to appear again before House committees to answer questions about whether COVID-19 could have leaked from a Chinese lab.
He’s back in the line of fire with the release of numerous emails showing that he was aware of the possibility of a lab leak early in the pandemic.
His critics seized on them to say that he knew more about gain of function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology than he was letting on.
House Republican whip Steve Scalise and James Comer wrote to the chairs of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus and the House Oversight Committee to say it was “necessary” for Fauci to appear before them.
Senior Republicans have written to their Democratic counterparts demanding that Dr. Anthony Fauci answers new questions about evidence revealed in his emails about his knowledge of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic
Rep. Steve Scalise (left), ranking member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus, wants more answers from Dr. Anthony Fauci (right) after releasing a cache of emails
Security personnel stand guard outside Wuhan Institute of Virology during a visit by a World Health Organization research team in February
They said the release of Fauci’s emails, obtained by news organizations under freedom of information laws, debunked claims made by many Democrats over the past year, including that Fauci and other scientists were being muzzled by the Trump administration.
“It is now imperative that Dr. Fauci will come before our committees to provide information about the origins of the novel coronavirus and the role of the US government in funding research that may have contributed to the development of the novel coronavirus, they said.
“The American people have a right to know what our government knew about the origin of the pandemic and when it was known.”
They also called on the committee chair and chairperson to demand unedited versions of Fauci’s newly released emails.
The cache sparked an intervention by former President Donald Trump, who said the communications showed he was right all along.
He demanded that China pay $10 trillion for its role in causing “death and destruction.”
“Now everyone, even the so-called ‘enemy’, is starting to say that President Trump was right about the China virus coming out of the Wuhan lab,” he said in the second of two statements he made in quick succession.
“The correspondence between Dr. Fauci and China speak too loud for anyone to ignore.’
Fauci was a favorite target of conservatives during the pandemic, attracting fire for his support for social distancing and wearing masks.
They have accused him of flip-flops for the way he initially resisted closing borders and wearing masks before approving both.
But his role in the early days of the crisis is being re-examined with the release of his emails.
In particular, Republicans claim the communications show Fauci knew that the Wuhan Institute of Virology — at the center of the lab leak hypothesis for the origin of the COVID-19 crisis — was conducting experiments on genetically engineered coronaviruses.
And they include posts last February with a key deputy discussing whether his National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases may have links to the work.
sen. Rand Paul is among those demanding new answers to whether Fauci still stands by his testimony that the US has not funded “feature gain” research into coronaviruses.
Fauci defended his actions, telling CNN on Thursday that the reports had been taken out of context.
And the White House issued a public defense of his work.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said he maintained Biden’s confidence, adding: “He has been an undeniable asset in our country’s pandemic response.”
Did the coronavirus originate in a Chinese government lab?
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been collecting numerous coronaviruses from bats since the SARS outbreak in 2002. They have also published papers describing how these bat viruses interacted with human cells.
US Embassy officials visited the lab in 2018 and expressed “serious security concerns” about protocols being adhered to at the facility.
The lab is located just a few miles from Huanan’s wet market, where the first cluster of infections broke out in Wuhan.
The market is just a few hundred meters from another lab, the Wuhan Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (WHCDC). The WHCDC kept sick animals in its labs, including some 605 bats.
Those who support the theory argue that Covid-19 could have leaked from one or both of these facilities and spread to the wet market. Most argue that this would be a virus they were studying rather than a developed virus.
Researchers work in a laboratory of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province in 2017
Last year, a bomb paper from the Beijing-sponsored South China University of Technology told how bats once attacked a WHCDC researcher and had “bat blood on his skin.”
The report says, “Patient genome sequences were 96% or 89% identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus originally found in Rhinolophus affinis (intermediate horseshoe bat).”
It describes how the only native bats are found about 600 miles away from the Wuhan fish market and that the chances of bats flying from Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces were minimal.
In addition, there is little evidence that locals eat the bats, as evidenced by testimonials from 31 residents and 28 visitors.
Instead, the authors point to research being conducted within 300 meters of the WHCDC.
One of the WHCDC researchers described himself in quarantine for two weeks after a bat’s blood got on his skin, according to the report. That same man also went into quarantine after a bat peed on him.
And he also mentions the discovery of a live bat tick — parasites known for their ability to spread infection through the blood of a host animal.
The WHCDC also adjoined the Union Hospital where the first group of doctors became infected during this epidemic, the report said.
“It is likely that the virus was leaking and some of them infecting the first patients in this epidemic, although solid evidence is needed in future research.”