Joe Biden’s Justice Department isn’t going to charge Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor with perjury for testimony about a complex scientific subject whose precise definition is disputed even by experts.
But asking them to do so will be a crowd-pleaser. And it’ll keep the pressure on Fauci to explain precisely why the study referenced by Paul during their confrontation yesterday didn’t involve gain of function research. The technique described in the study, splicing parts of different viruses together to test whether the new virus was capable of binding to human ACE2 receptors, sounded like GOF to me. It sounded that way to molecular biologist Richard Ebright too. And it sounded that way to reporter Josh Rogin, who famously broke the news last year that containment measures at the Wuhan Institute of Virology weren’t as rigorous as you’d expect from a lab doing work as dangerous as it was doing:
Hey guys, @RandPaul was right and Fauci was wrong. The NIH was funding gain of function research in Wuhan but NIH pretended it didn't meet their "gain of function" definition to avoid their own oversight mechanism. SorryNotSorry if that doesn't fit your favorite narrative.
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) July 20, 2021
Brett Giroir, Trump’s COVID testing czar (and a Fauci critic), agrees as well:
“What they did fund was exactly what Rand Paul said,” Giroir said. “They funded researchers to go hundreds of miles away into the back of bat caves, extract dangerous viruses from bats that have never been seen by humans before, and bring them to a city of 10 million people in the Wuhan lab. Next, they chopped up those viruses and created new Frankenstein viruses to see if they could infect human cells. That may not technically be ‘gain of function research,’ but it’s dangerous research, and Senator Paul’s questions deserve to be answered.”
Fauci wants to split hairs about what constitutes “gain of function research” when the question should be more basic. Was NIH funding research at the Wuhan lab to engineer viruses that would be more likely to infect people, risking a pandemic? It sounds like they were. Even if that doesn’t mean some technical definition of GOF, why were they chancing it?
Was this another case of Fauci thinking a possible pandemic was worth the risk?
2013. Fauci talking about gain of function research.
“Being too restrictive can impede creativity.” pic.twitter.com/UkJ7vBlVxa
— Maze (@mazemoore) July 21, 2021
Watch Paul with Hannity last night, tossing the reddest of meat to viewers. Fauci, who’s become the pandemic’s villain-in-chief, will finally face justice. Maybe. Conceivably.
Rand Paul also says he’s “sending a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a criminal referral” against Fauci because he believes he lied to Congress. pic.twitter.com/28bZuAFSUp
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) July 21, 2021
Paul’s being a little slippery too. Yesterday Fauci accused him of insinuating that the chimera viruses described in the 2017 study that Paul referenced were precursors of SARS-CoV-2, which Fauci claimed was impossible at a molecular level. Paul insisted that he wasn’t asserting that and acknowledges again in the clip above that the lab-leak theory hasn’t been confirmed. But his goal is to blame Fauci for the pandemic and in order to do that he needs to show that NIH money somehow led to human beings getting infected by the virus that causes COVID. Technically he doesn’t need to connect that to gain of function research; the “weak” form of the lab-leak theory is that Wuhan researchers harvested SARS-CoV-2 fully formed from bats in the wild, then brought it back to the WIV where it infected someone on the premises. (Ironically, the takeaway from the 2017 study was that a diverse array of viruses that were potentially dangerous to humans occur naturally in bats, making direct bat-to-human transmission in the wild more likely.) The crowd-pleasing “strong” form, though, is that SARS-CoV-2 is a Frankenstein virus engineered by Chinese scientists to be more infectious to people. Anyone who’s eager to make Fauci the Dr. Frankenstein of the pandemic prefers the strong-form theory, and that’s what Paul’s offering — while carefully noting that he isn’t saying anything definitively.
Here’s Neil Cavuto gently encouraging Fox viewers not to demonize Fauci too much. Good luck with that, dude.
Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto defended Dr. Fauci on Tuesday, saying that "at his core, he's a good man, a good doctor" and that "we've all got to just step back."
"He has been vilified to the point that you'd think he was Lex Luthor. And I don't know how productive that is." pic.twitter.com/Ghi3dEcbll
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) July 20, 2021