Republican lawmakers responded to a news report saying that the U.S. Energy Department had concluded the lab leak theory was “likely,” saying that the finding supports what many have long suspected.
A Wall Street Journal article on Feb. 26 reported that a classified intelligence report by the Energy Department said that the virus likely leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“So the government caught up to what Real America knew all along,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote in a Twitter post on Sunday.
The responses came as GOP lawmakers ramp up investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and allegations of government-big tech censorship of the debate.
The Energy Department was previously undecided on the issue but now joins the FBI in corroborating the lab leak hypothesis, according to the report. Several people who have read the report said the Department’s judgment was made with “low confidence,” the Journal reported.
Responding to the report on Sunday, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN that the intelligence community does not have a “definitive answer” on the matter at this point.
Republican lawmakers have been vocal about the theory that the virus leaked from the Wuhan laboratory soon after the onset of the pandemic in 2020. Initially, some health professionals and legacy media outlets dismissed the theory, labeling the theory’s proponents as racist and conspiracy theorists.
Some lawmakers also accused Anthony Fauci, former head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), of colluding with big tech companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, and censoring stories about the lab leak theory via what these companies describe as a crackdown on “misinformation.”
“Fauci knew this immediately but dismissed it because of funding for the Wuhan lab,” Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) wrote in another post. “We know what happened next — when Fauci spoke Big Tech censored. I exposed this collusion as AG and I’ll work to ensure this type of censorship never happens again.”
“Americans knew this from Day One,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Unfortunately, Big Tech and Big Government silenced them.”
Republicans and critics of Fauci have raised concerns about the NIAID’s funding of the Wuhan Institute of Virology via the non-governmental organization EcoHealth Alliance, including for research described by experts as gain-of-function. The NIAID issued about 3.4 million in grants to EcoHealth.
Gain-of-function research makes the virus more deadly by enhancing its pathogenicity, its ability to cause disease and harm the host, or transmissibility, how easily it spreads.
The NIH has denied that the grants were for gain-of-function research, while Fauci has defended the decision to issue the grants to EcoHealth.
“More evidence continues to mount that COVID came from the Wuhan lab. We’ve uncovered emails showing Dr. Fauci was warned that the virus looked man-made & came from a lab, but he may have acted to cover it up. Why? We need answers & accountability,” wrote the official Twitter account of the House Oversight Republican Committee.
Republicans on the committee previously disclosed internal NIH emails that showed Fauci was informed by senior scientists early in the pandemic that the theory that COVID-19 had a natural origin was “highly unlikely,” even while Fauci was publicly promoting the natural origin theory.
Republican lawmakers such as Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) took issue with what he described as a lack of transparency in government investigations related to the origins of COVID-19.
“The American people deserve the full truth about #covid origins. No more whitewash. I will again introduce legislation to make the US government’s intelligence reports on covid open to the people,” Hawley wrote.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) echoed Hawley’s view.
“The elites and academics owe everyone who had legitimate questions and concerns about the origins of COVID an apology,” Buck wrote in a Twitter post. “The American people deserve to see all the information concerning the Chinese lab leak and the origins of COVID. This won’t be forgotten.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) says the United States should focus on the further implications of the report, namely, the need for the U.S. government to act to hold the Chinese regime accountable for the pandemic.
“Re. China’s lab leak, being proven right doesn’t matter,” Cotton wrote in a Twitter post. “What matters is holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable so this doesn’t happen again.”
Another GOP lawmaker expressed skepticism about the intention behind the Energy Department’s report.
“Evidence the virus was created/released from a lab has been obvious for years,” wrote Sen. Ron Johnson in a Twitter post on Feb. 27. “I’m skeptical ‘new’ evidence surfaced. This is more likely an attempt by the Department of @ENERGY to provide cover for themselves as the truth comes to light.”
The Epoch Times contacted the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy for comment.
Update: This article has been updated to include a comment from Sen. Ron Johnson.