Republicans jump on ‘lab leak’ report, call for action against China
Republicans are seizing on a new Energy Department conclusion pointing to a “lab leak” as causing the COVID-19 outbreak to call for swift action against the Chinese government, which has refused to cooperate with global probes into the pandemic’s origin.
The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported Sunday that the Energy Department had determined with “low confidence” that the virus was leaked from a lab, though it is unclear what new intelligence that was based on.
The lack of confidence or details on the assessment didn’t stop Republicans from claiming validation and calling for urgent action against China.
“Re. China’s lab leak, being proven right doesn’t matter,” tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) “What matters is holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable so this doesn’t happen again.”
Cotton has long touted the theory that COVID-19 was linked to a lab studying coronaviruses in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began, and called for investigations into that possibility.
Earlier this month, House Republicans announced that the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic would prove the origins of COVID-19 and requested information from administration officials and others.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has publicly pushed the “lab leak” theory, as well as conspiracies surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, tweeted “Conspiracy theorists – 100 Media – 0” on Sunday.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also tweeted her response to the new report, saying, “For years, Anthony Fauci and Biden officials called this a conspiracy.”
Fauci said last year he had “completely open mind” about the origins of the virus.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that “there is not a definitive answer” to where the COVID-19 pandemic originated, telling CNN’s “State of the Union” that President Biden has directed intelligence agencies to get “to the bottom of this question.”
The Energy Department assessment adds to divided opinions of U.S. agencies over the pandemic’s origins.
The FBI has also determined with “moderate confidence” that the origins of the pandemic came from a lab, while four other agencies and the National Intelligence Council believe the virus was caused by natural transmission. Two other agencies, including the CIA, are undecided, the Journal reported.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said on Sunday that he will re-introduce legislation demanding more information on what the U.S. government has learned about the COVID outbreak.
“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,” he tweeted.
Hawley introduced legislation in 2021 to require the Biden administration to release intelligence regarding the lab in Wuhan.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R), a potential 2024 presidential candidate, was among the Republicans who called on Sunday to hold the Chinese Communist Part (CCP) accountable for the reported lab leak, pointing to the new Energy assessment.
“There was always enormous evidence that the Wuhan coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan lab. I’m glad the Department of Energy recognizes this reality. It’s past time to make the CCP pay,” he said in a tweet.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) echoed that call in a tweet.
“The left spent the past 2yrs trying to censor the truth & cover up for Communist China, but the facts are undeniable,” he wrote. “The CCP is evil. Its virus killed millions & Xi will stop at nothing to destroy the U.S. It’s time to hold this evil regime accountable.”
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that there should be “extensive” public hearings about the origins in Congress.
“Look, this is a country that has no problem coming out and lying to the world,” he said of China. “I think that we need to make sure every country knows that, and then look at what the consequences could be.”
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