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Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic at the Rayburn House Office Building on June 03, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
3:54 PM – Monday, June 3, 2024

On Monday, Republican senators vehemently questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former leading authority on infectious diseases in the United States until he left the government in 2022, over the origins of the COVID-19 virus and the pandemic.

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Over a year has been spent by a Republican-led subcommittee investigating the country’s response to the outbreak and if research financed by the United States in China contributed to it.

Democrats began the session by claiming that there is currently no proof that Fauci did anything improper.

Fauci, who was said to be a reliable source during the pandemic, faced intense questioning from the House subcommittee in private for two days in January, lasting fourteen hours. For the first time since he left the government after more than 50 years of service, they questioned him once more on Monday, both in front of the public and on camera.

This time, he was confronted with fresh doubts over the reliability of his previous organization, the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Emails from an NIH colleague about how to get around public records rules were made public by the House subcommittee last month.

One such tactic was to avoid bringing up contentious topics in official government emails.

Leading scientists originally maintained that the virus originated in the wild and spread from animals to humans, at a market in Wuhan, the outbreak’s starting point. The narrative revolved around how exotic game was being sold for human consumption at the Huanan Seafood Market.

U.S. intelligence agencies also still claim that there “isn’t enough evidence” to support the lab leak position.

However, Alina Chan, a Harvard and MIT molecular biologist, says that the COVID-19 virus most certainly came from the Chinese laboratory, and that the U.S. should be held accountable for funding highly risky research on contagious diseases and viruses at a facility with inadequate safety measures, while funding this kind of work with U.S. taxpayer money.

She also labeled the incident “the most costly accident in the history of science.”

Her research revealed a concerning picture of how the virus originated in China, was enhanced for maximum contagiousness with assistance from the U.S. government, and was eventually permitted to escape under insufficient control circumstances.

In the beginning, Fauci publicly stated that while he was open to both possibilities, there was supposedly more evidence that pointed to COVID-19’s “natural origins,” not a lab leak.

Samples from diseased individuals and animals were previously gathered by Wuhan researchers in an attempt to get further insight into the extremely contagious characteristics of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2.

According to Chan, a significant portion of this work was carried out in collaboration with EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based scientific group studying infectious diseases that has received more than $80 million in funding from the federal government since 2002.

However, Fauci now seemed to be backtracking his previous statements.

“I have repeatedly stated that I have a completely open mind to either possibility and that if definitive evidence becomes available to validate or refute either theory, I will ready accept it,” Fauci said at Monday’s hearing.

Republicans have also charged Fauci with lying to Congress when he denied in May 2022 that his agency had supported “gain of function” research at a Wuhan facility, which is the process of modifying a virus in the lab in order to examine its possible effects in the real world.

“Americans were aggressively bullied, shamed and silenced for merely questioning or debating issues such as social distancing, masks, vaccines or the origins of COVID,” said Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio).

“Whether intentional or not, you became so powerful, that any disagreements that the public had with you were hidden or censored on socials….This is why many Americans became so angry. Because this was fundamentally un-American,” Congressman Wenstrup added.

Yet, Fauci adamantly refuted allegations made by the GOP that he interfered with studies on the pandemic’s source or that he attempted to dissuade experts from considering the likelihood that the virus originated in a lab.

When Georgia’s GOP representative, Marjorie Taylor Greene (MTG), one of Fauci’s most ardent opponents, declared that his license should be withdrawn and he should be put in jail, tensions escalated. Soon after, fellow Republican and chair Representative Wenstrup interrupted her.

Following Greene’s remarks, Democrats continued to support Fauci, with Representative Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) labeling Greene’s remarks as “completely irresponsible.”

A Fauci aide, Dr. David Morens, told EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak that, although it’s unclear if Fauci ever had any participation, Fauci could accept printed copies of documents if Daszak didn’t want them documented on the public record.

According to documents, Morens personally used his private Gmail account to conceal information from FOIA’s purview. Among other things, he sent official government documents to Daszak and alerted him to information about grant materials from EcoHealth Alliance and COVID-19 research that would be made public through a FOIA request.

Republicans maintain that the alliance willfully broke the conditions of its multi-million dollar National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, supported gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China, without enough oversight, and reportedly submitted fraudulent representations to the NIH.

In a report, the House Select Subcommittee accused EcoHealth and Daszak of misconduct there and formally barred them. Following that, Health and Human Services stopped providing the organization with U.S. funds, which came to roughly $2.6 million last year.

Later, Democrat Representative Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) chastised Representative Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) for questioning Fauci about his “cruel animal tests” that were conducted at the NIH under his leadership.  

Additionally, Greene refused to address Anthony Fauci as “doctor,” and she also held up posters of dogs undergoing cruel, despicable tests that were purportedly led by the NIH as well.

She denounced the animal experiments as “disgusting and evil” and accused Fauci of “signing off” on these purported tests.

“What do dogs have to do with anything we are here for today?” Fauci asked, deflecting from MTG’s statements.

“Past federally-funded experiments on dogs under Dr. Fauci included cutting their vocal cords out, infesting the dogs with ticks, and placing dogs in cages with infectious sandflies,” according to Joni Ernst’s (R-Iowa) Senate website.

Ernst further states: “I understand that at least five different NIAID-funded tests on dogs, including puppies as young as six-months-old, are planned for this drug and will involve invasive, painful, and potentially deadly procedures.”

“Dr. Fauci was barking up the wrong tree when he decided to use government dollars on dog testing,” added Senator Ernst. “These inhumane practices have no place in our government – much less on the taxpayer’s dime. Thankfully, after voicing our concerns and shining a light on these heinous tactics, taxpayers can rest easy knowing their hard-earned money is not going towards dog abuse.”

Fauci also previously discussed receiving death threats as a result of his “prominent position” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated that the threats still stood on Monday and even cried when he was questioned about them.

“It is very troublesome to me. It is much more troublesome because they’ve involved my wife and my three daughters,” Fauci said, with his voice beginning to waver.

Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) then chimed in and sucked up to him as well.

“You deserve better… I’m afraid that the treatment you have received will have far-reaching consequences for the future of science, particularly when done for the public good,” Dingell said.

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