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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) questions Dr. Anthony Fauci during a Senate Committee hearing about the federal response to monkeypox, on Capitol Hill September 14, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Congressional Republicans continue expressing their desire to see controversial former government health official Dr. Anthony Fauci face criminal penalties for lying to Congress, but actually making it happen continues to depend on replacing the current leadership of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, an ophthalmologist and one of Fauci’s fiercest critics, reiterated in a recent interview that Fauci, former White House COVID-19 adviser and retired director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID), “lied to Congress, that’s a felony. I’ve referred him for prosecution, and [Attorney General] Merrick Garland has responded saying he got our letter, but there’s been no investigation as we know of.”

“We know he lied, not because I say so but because his private emails contradict his public statements,” Paul continued, referring to past testimony over Fauci’s role in approving funding for non-government organization EcoHealth Alliance to explore gain-of-function (GOF) research, which entails intentionally strengthening viruses to better study their potential effects on coronaviruses, at several sites, including China’s embattled Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), from which COVID-19 is strongly suspected to have first escaped.

Publicly, however, Fauci and other top health officials repeatedly insisted that the work NIAID approved was not gain-of-function research and could not have led to COVID – including in sworn testimony before Congress – despite a host of evidence to the contrary.

“To me, culpability is important, but I don’t have control, I can’t prosecute,” the senator continued, “but the other thing I want to have happen is, I want this type of research that we’re paying for through our tax dollars to be circumscribed, to be regulated, to have a real committee of scientists looking at what is worthwhile, what is not worthwhile.”

“So I’m not giving up on this til we either get culpability and/or a new law that says we can’t do this research without more oversight,” he promised.

In another recent interview, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio explained that federal law “says you can be imprisoned for eight years if you lie to Congress. It seems like there has never been a more clear-cut case of some individual lying to Congress.” At the same time, he cautioned that any criminal referral lodged by House Republicans would be to the Biden administration, which is closely aligned with Fauci politically.

So while “we could do a referral potentially,” Jordan said he would “prefer just to have Dr. Fauci come back in and take another round of questions here, but we’re building the case. You know, like, we had Dr. Redfield testify, and Chairman Wenstrup did. I thought he was—I thought he was great. As were the other witnesses that were brought in.”

Publicly, the theory that COVID escaped from a Chinese lab (as opposed to evolving in nature) was widely mocked and dismissed ever since Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas floated it in February 2020, and for months any suggestion of it was condemned as “misinformation.” It was not until mid-2021, well after Democrats had retaken the White House, that mainstream media outlets began to acknowledge it as a possibility.

In January 2022, Project Veritas released documents it obtained showing that, before going to NIAID, EcoHealth previously pitched its funding request to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which rejected it on the grounds that the project would violate a preexisting moratorium on GOF research and failed to account for its potential risks.

Over the past two years, emails have revealed that Fauci, former National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Dr. Francis Collins, and other top researchers were aware of the lab leak possibility as early as February 2020 but feared that publicly acknowledging it would impair “science and international harmony.”

In March, the Washington Examiner reported that in early 2020, Dr. Kristian Andersen of the Scripps Institute and Dr. Robert Garry of Tulane University notified Fauci that they took seriously suspicions that COVID first escaped from WIV, with Andersen writing that “one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered” and that COVID’s genome seemed “inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.”

In March, however, both signed onto a paper entitled “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2” (Proximal Origin), which concluded the lab leak hypothesis was not “plausible.” LifeSiteNews has reported that Fauci himself had input into the final draft, which was not initially disclosed. The Examiner’s review found that, from 2020 to 2022, research projects led by Andersen and Garry received $25.2 million in NIH grants.

In September, public health nonprofit U.S. Right to Know reported that a January 7, 2020, email obtained via the federal Freedom of Information Act to Fauci and other health officials from Fauci chief of staff Greg Folkers stated that “EcoHealth group (Peter Daszak et al), has for years been among the biggest players in coronavirus work, also in collaboration with Ralph Baric, Ian Lipkin and others.” Daszak is president of EcoHealth Alliance.

“NIAID has funded Peter’s group for coronavirus work in China for the past 5 years,” the email says, facilitating the discovery of 52 novel sarbecoviruses, which USRTK notes is the “species that SARS-CoV-2 belongs to.” It also notes the discovery of “SARS-related CoVs that can bind to human cells,” which “cause SARS-like disease in humanized mouse models.”

Additional emails reveal Fauci was concerned enough about a potential connection to have NIAID Deputy Director Hugh Auchincloss look into it, and Collins expressed interest “in the proposal of accidental lab passage in animals (which ones?).”

Andrew Huff, a former U.S. Army infantryman in Iraq, research fellow in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and vice president-turned-whistleblower for EcoHealth, has also attested that COVID’s origins trace back to U.S. federal funding overseen by Fauci and the federal government.

Regardless of the evidence, whether Fauci and others face any legal consequences will ultimately depend on whether Democrats keep the presidency in next year’s election, and if not, whether the Republican nominee to replace Biden prioritizes staffing a Justice Department with an attorney general and other top officials interested in a reckoning for the policies that allegedly led to and were unleashed by COVID.