Did Anthony Fauci Lie, and Could He Go to Jail?

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Oct. 22 2021, Published 7:44 a.m. ET

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, chief medical advisor and chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation, has been the face of the administration's efforts to address the pandemic. However, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) letter has ignited previous speculations that Fauci lied about gain-of-function research being funded by the U.S. Did Fauci lie, and could he go to jail?

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Fauci didn't have a good relationship with Donald Trump, and his conservative stance on reopening and insistence on masks didn't sit well with several Republicans. Senator Rand Paul has been among his most vocal critics.

Gain-of-function testing

Gain-of-function research was banned in the U.S. up until 2017. While the research helps in gaining more knowledge about how pathogens work, it can be a biosafety hazard. In fact, some conspiracy theorists see the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of a leak from gain-of-function research at a lab in Wuhan, China. There were also speculations that the U.S. funded the Wuhan lab with taxpayers’ money, which Fauci has denied.

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Did Fauci lie to Congress?

Now, a letter released by EcoHealth Alliance written by NIH principal deputy director Lawrence Tabak to Republican Rep. James Comer reveals that a “limited experiment" was conducted on bats. Interestingly, the letter begins with a disclaimer stating that the bat coronaviruses studied under the NIH grant “are not and could not have become SARS-CoV-2.” The EcoHealth Alliance is funded by the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is headed by Fauci.

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On multiple occasions, Fauci has said that NIAID does not fund gain-of-function research, and when prodded by Paul, Fauci said, “I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement.” In July 2021, the two had a heated debate during a Senate hearing, and Fauci turned the tables, accusing Paul of lying. “If anyone is lying here, senator, it is you,” Fauci claimed.

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Rand Paul wants to see Fauci in Jail

Paul has hit back hard at Fauci after the letter and said the scientist should be sent to jail for five years for felony. In an interview with Fox News, he said “I don’t think Biden Department of Justice will do anything with it, but … it is very dangerous to have public officials who we need to have trust incoming and lying to us. But he has lied dozens of times. Usually, he tells us it’s for our own good.”

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Paul isn't the only one upset by the letter. Several other Republican lawmakers, including House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Congressman James Comer, have criticized the NIH for lying to Congress. Richard Ebright, professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University, described the letter as a “bombshell.”

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