Dr. Anthony Fauci made his displeasure with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) abundantly clear during a Tuesday morning Senate hearing, tearing into the Republican lawmaker and accusing him of “lying.”
Throughout the past year, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and the Kentucky senator have regularly clashed over the pandemic and the government’s response to it. Over the past few months, however, the back-and-forth has grown even more heated as Paul has outright accused Fauci of funding so-called gain-of-function research in China that resulted in the development of COVID-19.
Paul has previously claimed Fauci is “morally culpable” for the pandemic and on Tuesday immediately grilled the doctor over a grant provided by the National Institutes of Health that contributed to a study at a lab in Wuhan. Referencing their last exchange in May in which Fauci denied that the NIH funded gain-of-function research to mutate animal viruses to infect humans, the Kentucky senator suggested Fauci was guilty of perjury.
“Dr. Fauci, knowing it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement?” Paul wondered aloud.
“Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement,” Fauci fired back. “This paper was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain-of-function.”
Fauci also took issue with Paul’s interpretation of the particular study he referenced, specifically noting that it does not explicitly constitute gain-of-function research.
“Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I would like to say that officially: You do not know what you are talking about,” the chief Biden medical adviser seethed.
“No one is saying those viruses caused the pandemic,” the senator insisted. “What we’re alleging is that gain-of-function research was done in that lab and NIH funded it. You can’t get away from it, it meets your definition and you are obfuscating the truth.”
The two combatants began talking over one another at this point, with Fauci eventually saying he resented “the lie you are now propagating” as Paul alleged that “a grant that was funded as a sub-award to Wuhan created” the pandemic.
The doctor would then say it was “molecularly impossible” for the viruses referenced in the study to have developed into COVID-19, prompting the Republican lawmaker to fire back that “they’re animal viruses that became more transmissible in human and you funded it.”
With Paul’s time expired, the chairperson allowed Fauci to offer up a final response: “You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals. I totally resent that.”
“It could have been,” the Kentucky senator retorted.
“If anybody’s lying here, senator, it is you,” Fauci concluded.