Is Sen. Paul right to pursue 'criminal referral' for Dr. Fauci testimony?


Fact Box

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci is the leading immunologist for the White House, and has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. 
  • On Monday, July 19, 2021, Senator Rand Paul accused the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Dr. Fauci of funding “illegal gain-of-function research” in Wuhan. Fauci defended NIH in a testimony, “[they] have not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
  • Sen. Paul said on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, “I will be sending a letter to Department of Justice asking for a criminal referral, because he has lied to Congress. We have scientists that will line up by the dozens to say that the research he was funding was gain-of-function.”
  • Forbes reported a 60 percent approval rating of Fauci’s handling of the pandemic in February 2021 with a 14 percent “fair” rating and a 17 percent “poor” rating. According to Rasmussen Reports, that favorability rating dropped to 54 percent by March 2021.
  • As of Sunday July 25, 2021, there have been 35 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 626,754 reported deaths.

Elizabeth (Yes)

Rand Paul is right to make a criminal referral regarding Fauci. As all congressional criminal referrals are, it’s a non-binding recommendation that the Department of Justice looks into the matter. This is the correct course of action given the fact that Fauci is undoubtedly hiding behind the impossibly narrow definition of ‘Gain of Function’ as put forth in 2014 regarding coronaviruses. As long as he’s been in medicine, to say nothing of running The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) branch of NIH, Fauci knows exactly what he’s doing. 

Unfortunately for Fauci, Paul is also a doctor and, though he is not an infectious disease specialist, Paul knows and respects scientific inquiry and understands the fact that our National Institute of Health essentially assisted China in having the ability to ‘play’ with SARS Cov-2. 

Over the course of the pandemic, Fauci has insisted on trusting science, whose accuracy is inherently ever-changing, while simultaneously criticizing those who disagree with the official narrative of the moment. That fact alone is enough to give Rand Paul reason to question Fauci’s transparency and commitment to finding the truth about COVID-19. Add to that the money funneled to the Wuhan Institute of Virology via NIH, Fauci’s vehement denial of the lab-leak theory or Gain of Function research seems even more dubious. He appears either naive, dumb, unwilling to consider options or perhaps covering something up. And since he’s clearly neither dumb nor at 80 years old, naive, it leads one to conclude one of the other two options. 

No doubt, this has been a difficult 18 months in which to lead the Infectious Disease arm of NIH. That doesn’t absolve Fauci of his responsibility to be forthcoming.

Andrew (No)

In his misguided threats to pursue criminal action against Dr. Fauci, Senator Paul is taking a page from the playbook of anti-vaxers, conspiracy theorists, and “big lie” propagators who just keep repeating claims until they are taken seriously, regardless of the facts. In addition to his disgraceful disregard for facts in the Senate hearing, Senator Paul also went on Fox News to repeat his unsubstantiated claims to host Sean Hannity, who is also known not to let facts stand in his way. It is clear from Dr. Fauci’s responses (“that is molecularly impossible,” and “you do not know what you’re talking about...If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you”) that Senator Paul doesn’t understand the science behind the gain-of-function concept. Both Dr. Fauci and the NIH have vigorously denied that they have funded gain-of-function research at the facility in Wuhan, and there is frankly no evidence to the contrary. By constantly repeating this misinformation, Senator Paul hopes that his blatantly false accusations will be taken seriously. This is a grave abuse of trust in our elected leaders, and Senator Paul should know better.

What’s even more disturbing about Senator Paul’s actions is that he is attempting to go after the nation’s top infectious disease expert during a time of pandemic over something so trivial and irrelevant. Evidence and a WHO investigation show it is highly unlikely that COVID-19 was leaked intentionally or accidentally from the Wuhan lab. Senator Paul is using this as a red herring distraction to deflect blame for the deaths of over 600,000 Americans from his party’s botched response.

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