Dr. Anthony Fauci brands Rand Paul as ‘out of tune with reality’ after senator accused him of lying

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sen. Rand Paul is ‘out of tune with reality’ and was ‘completely out of line’ during Tuesday’s fierce exchange during a Senate hearing. 

Paul accused Fauci of funding ‘gain-of-function’ research in China‘s Wuhan lab and then lying under oath, which Fauci adamantly denied. The men exchanged words and called each other a liar.    

The usually even-keeled Fauci was still fired up during Wednesday appearance on MSNBC’s ‘The Beat’ with Ari Melber, who pointed out Fauci’s fiery response was such a contrast to his public demeanor. 

‘What was so important or concerning to you about that?’ Melber asked. 

‘(Paul) was completely out of line. He totally distorted reality,’ Fauci responded. 

‘And he made some inflammatory and I believe slanderous remarks about lying under oath, which is completely nonsense. 

‘I mean, and some of the things he says are so distorted and out of tune with reality, I had to call him on that. I didn’t enjoy it, but I had to do that because he was completely out of line. Totally inappropriate.’    

Fauci strongly denied Paul's claims that he was lying to Congress, and told Paul that he was deeply mistaken in his arguments

Fauci strongly denied Paul’s claims that he was lying to Congress, and told Paul that he was deeply mistaken in his arguments

Rand Paul is seen earlier on Tuesday in the Senate, during the hearing of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Rand Paul is seen earlier on Tuesday in the Senate, during the hearing of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

After the verbal jousting during Tuesday’s Senate hearing, Paul went on Fox News and told host Sean Hannity that he’ll be writing to the Justice Department seeking ‘a criminal referral’ because  Fauci ‘has lied to Congress.’  

Paul has insisted that Fauci funded ‘gain of function’ research in the Wuhan lab in China, whereby viruses are manipulated to make them more lethal and transmissible. The Wuhan lab is now seen as a possible source for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fauci has confirmed that his organization, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, funded research at Wuhan, but is adamant that the money was not direct towards gain of function.

Paul didn’t believe him Tuesday night and hasn’t believed him for months. 

‘We have scientists that will line up by the dozens saying the research he was funding was gain of function,’ Paul told Hannity Tuesday night. 

‘He is doing this because he has a self interest to cover his tracks and to cover his connection to Wuhan lab. 

‘Now does he deserve all the blame? No, there’s still some conjecture as to whether or not it came from the lab. 

‘But he is lying about whether or not he funded gain of function research, and yes, he should be punished.’

Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday night appeared on Fox News, and announced he had written to the Justice Department seeking a criminal referral for Dr Anthony Fauci, accusing him of lying to Congress

Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday night appeared on Fox News, and announced he had written to the Justice Department seeking a criminal referral for Dr Anthony Fauci, accusing him of lying to Congress

Paul, an eye surgeon for 18 years, has frequently clashed with Fauci about COVID-19

Paul, an eye surgeon for 18 years, has frequently clashed with Fauci about COVID-19 

The Justice Department is highly unlikely to seek prosecution of Fauci, who works within the government as Biden’s chief medical advisor. 

Paul has championed a Republican campaign to get Fauci, 80, removed as the head of the NIAID. 

Paul accused Fauci of orchestrating a coverup of his role in funding the Wuhan lab. 

‘Once the public figures out that they were doing very, very dangerous research there, gain of function research, taking dangerous animal viruses and making them transmissible to humans, he realizes where the blame is going to attach,’ Paul told Hannity.

‘He has at least tangential responsibility.

‘If this came from the lab that he was funding, my goodness, could you imagine the moral culpability that the man has?’

What is Gain of Function research?

Gain of Function Research (GOF) is a controversial practice that involves altering a virus or pathogen in order to study the development of new diseases and their transmission. 

Scientists conducting GOF research modify naturally occurring viruses to make them more infectious so that they can replicate in human cells in a lab. 

This allows the virus’s potential effects on humans to be studied and better understood. GOF has been considered controversial due to its inherent biosafety risks. 

In 2014, the Obama administration imposed a moratorium on GOF which included halting funding for projects, however, this decision was overturned three years later by the National Institute of Health (NIH). 

On May 25, 2021, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci defended funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology through a $600,000 grant given to the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, to study whether bat coronaviruses could be transmitted to humans.

He said the research was essential, pointing out that the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s was eventually traced back to bats. 

However, Fauci claimed that under the terms of the funding, scientists were not to use the money on Gain of Function research.

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Paul, a medical doctor and an ophthalmologist, pointed out that gain of function research was currently being carried out in Galveston, Texas and in North Carolina.

‘So this is a big debate, not just over blame, but over whether or not this could happen again in the United States,’ he said.

Fauci earlier on Tuesday angrily denied Paul’s accusation that he was lying. 

‘I have not lied before Congress,’ said Fauci. 

‘I have never lied. Certainly not before Congress. Case closed.’ 

Fauci told Paul before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, saying a study the senator mentioned referenced a different sort of virus entirely from the one responsible for the coronavirus outbreak.

‘Senator Paul, you do not know what you’re talking about, quite frankly,’ Fauci said. 

‘And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you’re talking about.’

He added: ‘If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you.’

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.’

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 NIH definition of gain of function includes ‘scientific research that increases the transmissibility among animals is gain-of-function.’ 

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. 

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.  

The emails reveal that Fauci was warned privately of the possibility that the origins of COVID were due to a lab leak in Wuhan – even though he publicly dismissed the ideas and allowed Democrats to call it a conspiracy.

The email revelation did not show Fauci’s personal take on the theory.

Fauci v Paul: The debate over gain-of-function research and the $600K NIH grant to the Wuhan lab

Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci have been at loggerheads over gain-of-function research and a $600,000 grant the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gave to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2014.

Gain of Function Research (GOF) is a controversial practice that involves altering a virus or pathogen in order to study the development of new diseases and their transmission. The research can ultimately make the virus more contagious or more deadly in a lab. 

According to an NIH definition, GOF includes studying and altering viruses in animals to make them transmissible to humans – and potentially more contagious and deadly. 

Paul accused Fauci on May 11 of misleading Congress by saying the U.S. has never funded gain-of-function projects at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The Kentucky Republican points to a $3.7million grant NIH gave EcoHealth Alliance in 2014.  EcoHealth Alliance in turn distributed nearly $600,000 of that funding to its collaborator, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). 

Paul has maintained that emails from Fauci showed that he was worried NIH funded gain-of-function research in February 2020 when the pandemic first started to emerge. 

In an interview in June, Paul told Fox News: ‘I think we’ve had a change of opinion. Everybody left-of-center was saying this was a conspiracy, no way it could have happened in the Wuhan lab. Now even Dr. Fauci is saying we should investigate it’

‘But the emails paint a disturbing picture, a disturbing picture of Dr. Fauci form the very beginning worrying that he had been funding gain of function research. And he knows it to this day but hasn’t admitted it.’

Paul claimed in the interview that ‘there is a lot of evidence’ that Fauci’s views on the Wuhan lab-leak theory were compromised by a ‘conflict of interest.’

‘If it turns out this virus came from the Wuhan lab, which it looks like it did, that there’s a great deal of culpability in that he was a big supporter of the funding,’ Paul said.

‘But he was also a big supporter to this day of saying that we can trust the Chinese on this, that we can trust Chinese scientists and I think that’s quite naïve and really should preclude him form the position that he’s in.

In June, Fauci dismissed revelations that he was warned at the start of pandemic that COVID-19 may have been ‘engineered’.

Fauci seemed to play down a mass trove of damaging emails which include warnings from the start of the pandemic that the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

He said his emails are ‘ripe to be taken out of context’ but he ‘can’t guarantee everything that is going on in the Wuhan lab’

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At the hearing on Tuesday, Paul attempted to prove Fauci was lying in his May testimony by presenting a Wuhan Institute of Virology paper that details efforts to produce man-altered coronaviruses.

Fauci ‘stated that the NIH has never and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,’ Paul said in the committee chamber. ‘And yet, gain-of-function research was done entirely in the Wuhan institute by Doctor Shi [Zhengli] and was funded by the NIH.’

He then cited the paper by WIV scientists titled ‘Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus’.

The paper specifically talks about ongoing efforts to produce a ‘chimeric’ coronavirus, which means it has been altered by man – otherwise known as ‘gain of function.’

It also details, Paul noted, that the NIH was a source of funding for that research.

Paul asserted that the research recorded in the paper ‘explicitly matches the definition of gain-of-function research.’

‘This paper was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain-of-function,’ Fauci insisted. 

Paul came back with saying WIV researchers ‘took animal viruses’ and ‘then increased their transmissibility to humans. How you can say that is not gain-of-function—it’s a dance, and you’re dancing around this, because you’re trying to obscure responsibility for four million people around the world dying from a pandemic.’ 

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. 

The Fauci email leak in early June showed the NIH doctor was warned several times in January, february and April of 2020 by different experts that COVID-19 was likely the result of testing at the Wuhan lab in China.

On April 18, 2020, Fauci received an email from the head of a research group that’s partnered with WIV. In the email, the individual was thanking Fauci or publicly insisting evidence doesn’t point to the lab as the source.

Then, after mounting evidence supporting the lab leak theory was revealed in June, Fauci finally deflected by saying the origin is likely a natural occurrence, where it goes from an animal reservoir to a human. 

In an interview with CNN, Fauci said he is ‘keeping an open mind that it might be a lab leak’ but dismissed the idea of bioengineering as ‘far out’.

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