Anthony Fauci lashed out at Rand Paul on Tuesday during a Senate hearing as he accused the Kentucky Republican of being a ‘liar’ who ‘doesn’t know what you’re talking about’ when it comes to COVID origins.
‘Dr. Fauci, knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11 where you claimed the NIH [National Institute of Health] never funded gain of function research in Wuhan?’ Paul asked of the nation’s top immunologist and Joe Biden’s top COVID advisor.
‘Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement,’ Fauci shot back in the heated exchange on Capitol Hill during a Senate Health Committee hearing.
The duo have frequently clashed publicly both in the Senate and out over NIH funds.
When Paul asked Fauci if taking an animal virus and increasing its transmissibility to humans is not the definition of ‘gain of function’, Fauci said: ‘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,’ Fauci lambasted as the two began talking over each other in front of the hearing room.
Senator Rand Paul got in a heated exchange with Dr. Anthony Fauci at a hearing Tuesday when he again pushed the nation’s top immunologist on whether the U.S. funded gain of function research in Wuhan
‘Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about,’ Fauci lashed out at Paul, claiming, ‘If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you’
‘You won’t admit the truth,’ Paul rebutted.
‘You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individual (sic). I totally resent that,’ Fauci said.
‘And it could have been,’ Paul interjected.
‘If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you,’ Fauci said as he grabbed hold of the microphone and pointed at the Kentucky senator.
This isn’t the first time Paul and Fauci have gone at it in hearings, which are publicly broadcasted.
He defended allocating $600,000 to a group called EcoHealth Alliance, which then paid the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study the risk that bat coronaviruses could infect humans.
Paul grilled Fauci in May about the $600,000 in funding allocated for EcoHealth Alliance, which turned around and paid the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study how bat coronavirus could infect humans.
Fauci defended that allocation during a hearing before a congressional budget committee
The $600,000 in funding was reinstated in August after a different earlier grant was blocked in April 2020 amid concern over safety at the Wuhan lab.
Paul insisted during the terse exchange that the money was being used for gain of function research. Fauci, however, insisted the money was not used for this purpose.
‘You are entirely and completely incorrect,’ Fauci told Paul at the hearing. ‘The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute.’
Paul gave Fauci the opportunity to retract his May 11 statement claiming the U.S. did not fund gain of function research with it’s $600,000 grant by saying: ‘Dr. Fauci, knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement?’
Gain of function research looks at both transmitting disease between animals and humans and is a way for scientists to alter organisms and diseases to study how they could become deadlier or more transmissible.
The Kentucky senator repeatedly questioned Fauci on gain of function – and the U.S. indirectly funding that research in China – on a few occasions. The theory has emerged in conservative circles as a potential answer to the origins of COVID-19.
Paul, an ophthalmologist before being elected to Congress, was the first known senator to test positive for COVID-19 in March 2020 – the same month the nation went into lockdown in response to the rapidly spreading virus.
After he completed quarantine and returned to work, Paul refused to wear a mask at the Capitol, insisting he was now ‘immune’ since he already contracted and recovered from COVID-19.
Last month, Paul also accused Fauci of lying and demanded he be fired after a slew of his emails were made public.
Paul claimed to Fox News early in June that thousands of emails revealed by Buzzfeed News and the Washington Post proved Fauci may have been in-part responsible for the development of COVID-19.