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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) – Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky announced over the weekend that he has filed a criminal referral to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against former top White House COVID-19 adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci for apparently lying to Congress about his role in subsidizing controversial gain-of-function (GOF) research that is suspected of contributing to the COVID outbreak.

Paul cites a 2020 email in which Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID), discusses how suspicion that the virus’s origin may not have been entirely natural “was heightened by the fact that scientists in Wuhan University are known to have been working on gain-of-function experiments to determine the molecular mechanisms associated with bat viruses adapting to human infection, and the outbreak originated in Wuhan.”

GOF research entails intentionally strengthening viruses to better study their potential effects, which is controversial because doing so means they are more dangerous if they ever leak out of the controlled environment of a laboratory.

Paul says the email “directly contradicts everything he said in committee hearing to me, denying absolutely that they funded any gain of function, and it’s absolutely a lie.”

“There’s probably never been a government official caught more red-handed, lying to us,” Paul told Fox News. “He has proved the lie in his own words. So at first he kind of acted like, ‘oh, we don’t have anything to do with the research over there, we don’t fund the research in Wuhan, so we found the actual scientific papers, we found the grant number proving it came from his agency. And then he said, ‘oh well, we’re funding it, but it’s not gain-of-function. My experts up and down have looked at this and it’s not gain-of-function.’

“We have contemporaneous documents, documents from February of 2020 in the height of the beginning of the pandemic, where he is saying privately, ‘we’re suspicious that this virus could have come from the lab because they’re doing gain-of-function research.’ He describes the projects that I had described to him a year later, which he said, ‘oh, there’s nothing to see here.’ We have in his own words admitting it was gain of function, admitting they funded it and admitting it gave them suspicion to the possibility this pandemic came from the lab.”

On paper, lying to Congress is punishable by up to five years in prison, but the senator cautioned that he does not expect anything to come out of the referral given the Biden administration’s political biases.

“We have him dead to rights, the problem is this: we have Merrick Garland who I think is a pure rank partisan,” Paul said. “I don’t think he’ll ever be prosecuted. We also have a Democrat Party that is happy to have paid him more than the president, more than any president makes and he actually got a million dollars from a private foundation while he was still a public servant. Everything about this is rotten to the core and if we don’t bring him to justice we’ll never get the control we need on this type of research to try and prevent it from happening again.”

Publicly, the theory that COVID escaped from a Chinese lab was widely mocked and dismissed ever since Republican U.S. 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.

One focal point of the issue has been Fauci, given his role in supporting the research that may have eventually led to COVID by approving funding for medical non-government organization EcoHealth Alliance to explore GOF research on coronaviruses at several sites, including WIV.

Fauci and his defenders insisted that the work NIAID approved was not gain-of-function research and could not have led to COVID, but in January 2022, the conservative investigators of Project Veritas released documents they 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.

Since then, leaked 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 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.”

However, both ultimately 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.

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.