OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday that the nation’s lead immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, should be tried and imprisoned for “lying” for his claim that the agency he has run since the early 1980s, the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, did not fund “gain-of-function” research.
In an interview with Fox Business, the Kentucky Republican admitted he does not “have a lot of hope” that Fauci is going to be charged by President Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, who likely is not going to be “objectively looking” at the chief White House medical adviser’s congressional testimony.
“We’ve referred him to the Department of Justice, but then again, Merrick Garland is the one now going after parents that go to school board meetings,” Paul said.
“So I don’t have a lot of hope that Merrick Garland is objectively looking at Fauci’s lying,” Paul continued, followed by a pointed 12-word statement about the NIAID director: “Fauci should go to prison for five years for lying to Congress.”
“They have prosecuted other people. They have selectively gone after Republicans, but in no way will they do anything about him lying. But he should be prosecuted for lying,” Paul, who is a practicing ophthalmologist, said.
He added that “at the very least,” Fauci ought to be “taken out of position because I think he cost people lives through misinformation.”
“Every time he tells people, ‘Oh, wear a cloth mask,’ he is actually endangering people. If you are around someone with COVID, you don’t want to wear a mask, because they don’t work,” he said.
The Western Journal adds:
Paul is not a believer in cloth face masks, as you might have gathered; this got him suspended from his YouTube account in August, as NBC News noted, because he said they were ineffective. This rests on the iffier side of the fence — but the idea Fauci should be held to account for his testimony before the Senate on two separate occasions decidedly isn’t.
Questioning Fauci during a hearing on May 11, Paul said that “government authorities — self-interested in continuing ‘gain of function’ research — say there’s nothing to see here … ‘Gain of function’ research, as you know, is juicing up naturally occurring animal viruses to infect humans.
“To arrive at the truth, the U.S. government should admit that the Wuhan Virology Institute was experimenting to enhance the coronavirus’s ability to infect humans,” said Paul in reference to National Institutes of Health grants given to an organization called EcoHealth Alliance, which worked in conjunction with the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, specifically on coronavirus research.
Several people, including Paul, have speculated that is where COVID-19 originated from — the Wuhan lab, not a “wet market” — though it is not at all clear any NIH funding went to developing that particular viral strain.
“Sen. Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect,” Fauci responded, adding the NIH “has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
At the time, the Louisville Courier-Journal accused the Kentucky senator of “echoing speculation put forth in conservative media.” And Forbes declared that said Paul made “unsubstantiated claims about the link between a Wuhan, China lab, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the origin of Covid-19.”
But ahead of congressional testimony Fauci gave in July, The Wall Street Journal reported that indeed, NIH funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan facility that constituted gain-of-function.
Fauci still denied it, however.
“Dr. Fauci, as you are aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress. … On your last trip to our committee on May 11, you stated that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Paul said.
“Dr. Fauci, knowing it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11 where you claimed that the NIH never funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan?” the senator asked, warning Fauci it was “a felony and a five-year penalty for lying to Congress.”
“Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement,” Fauci responded. “This paper that you’re referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain-of-function.”
Fauci added: “Sen. Paul, you do not know what you’re talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about.”