FBI, State Department Miss Deadline to Produce COVID Origin Information to House Panel

By Lawrence Wilson
Lawrence Wilson
Lawrence Wilson
Lawrence Wilson covers politics for The Epoch Times.
March 14, 2023Updated: March 14, 2023

The FBI and Department of State didn’t provide documents by the deadline in response to a congressional request for information on the origins of the COVID-19 virus, but the agencies are expected to comply, according to the House panel seeking the information.

The information was requested on Feb. 27 by Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, and by Rep. Brad R. Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. The deadline for providing the documents was March 13.

“We have not received documents at this time, but we are in communication with the agencies about the chairman’s request, and we expect compliance,” a spokesperson for the subcommittee told The Epoch Times on March 13.

A spokesperson for the State Department told The Epoch Times: “President Biden has directed every element of our intelligence community to put the effort and resources behind getting to the bottom of the origins of COVID-19. We will continue to use every tool to figure out what happened here. And if we gain further insight, the President has directed the Administration to share that with Congress and the American people.”

The FBI declined to comment.

The select subcommittee is investigating “the origins of COVID-19 and the CCP’s efforts to cover it up,” according to Feb. 27 letters sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray (pdf) and Secretary of State Antony Blinken (pdf).

The subcommittee held an initial hearing on the origin of the virus on March 8, during which witnesses offered mixed opinions on whether the origins of the virus can be definitively traced to a leak from a research laboratory in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the global pandemic.

Wenstrup pledged “to leave no stone unturned to try to find the truth” about the origins of the virus in his opening statement to the subcommittee.

Epoch Times Photo
Dr. Robert Redfield, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies before Congress on Capitol Hill on March 8, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“This question is fundamental to helping us predict and prevent future pandemics, protecting our health and national security, and preparing the United States for the future,” he said.

Fauci ‘Prompted’ Writing of Paper

The subcommittee’s majority staff issued a memo (pdf) on March 5 suggesting that Dr. Anthony Fauci, then-director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “prompted” the writing of a paper aimed at disproving the theory that the virus could have leaked from a research laboratory.

Testifying before the subcommittee, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated his unequivocal belief that the virus likely spread after escaping a research facility in Wuhan, China.

“Based on my initial analysis of the data, I came to believe—and still believe today—that it indicates COVID-19 infections more likely were the result of an accidental lab leak than the result of a natural spillover event,” Redfield said.

The U.S. intelligence community drew the same conclusion, stating in a 2021 report, now declassified, that it held that view with “moderate confidence.”

The U.S. Department of Energy reached that conclusion in February but rated its finding with “low confidence.”

Epoch Times Photo
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives for a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to COVID-19 and new emerging variants at Capitol Hill on Jan. 11, 2022. (Shawn Thew/AFP via Getty Images)

Proponents of the laboratory leak theory have cited the fact that the horseshoe bat, from which some say the virus crossed over to the human population, isn’t found in the Wuhan area. The bat is native to subtropical southern China, some 1,000 miles from Wuhan.

Dr. Paul G. Auwaerter, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told the subcommittee that the low-confidence conclusion reached by the Department of Energy means that the finding was based on scant or questionable information so that no firm conclusions could be drawn from it.

“Investigations are ongoing, and there is currently no consensus among scientists and intelligence experts about the origins of COVID-19,” Auwaerter said.

The State Department didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

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