Rand Paul calls for Fauci's firing over 'lack of judgment'

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP anger with Fauci rises Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default Cotton swipes at Fauci: 'These bureaucrats think that they are the science' MORE (R-Ky.) called for Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci to appear on Fox Business Friday for rare interview on the network Hawaii reports its first omicron case Glenn Greenwald discusses criticism of Fauci overseeing 'medically unjustifiable' experiments on dogs MORE to be fired over a “lack of judgment,” contending that President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE’s chief medical adviser lied about research the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded in Wuhan, China.

“He should be fired,” Paul told Mike Allen during an interview with “Axios on HBO” that aired Sunday. 

“The thing is, is just for lack of judgment of nothing else, and I, you know, he's probably never going to admit that he lied, he's going to continue to dissemble and try to work around the truth and massage the truth,” he added.

ADVERTISEMENT

Paul’s comments are the latest in a feud with Fauci that has been bubbling for months, at times face-to-face during Senate committee hearings. Last month, the senator said Fauci deserves a five-year prison sentence for lying to Congress. 

The call for Fauci to be fired came after Lawrence Tabak, the principal deputy director at the NIH, penned a letter to Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersDemocrats to target Section 230 in Haugen hearing Washington redistricting panel reaches late agreement on new lines McMorris Rodgers worried broadband funding will miss mark without new maps MORE (R-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, last week that revealed new details regarding an NIH grant to EcoHealth Alliance, which conducted an experiment at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

According to the letter, unpublished data showed that laboratory mice infected with one bat coronavirus became sicker than those infected with a different bat coronavirus.

Tabak said that while that finding was “an unexpected result of the research,” the viruses examined in the experiment “were genetically very distant from SARS-CoV-2.”

Paul said the letter shows that the experiment involved gain of function research.

“In the letter they acknowledge that yes, the viruses did gain in function, they became more dangerous. So they've created a virus that doesn't exist in nature to become more dangerous, that is gain of function,” Paul said.

“Now they try to justify it by saying well it was an unexpected result. I'm not sure I buy that. Think about it you take an unknown virus, you combine it with another virus and you get a super virus. You have no idea whether it gains functions or loses function, that's what the experiment is, but I don't know how anybody could argue that that's not gain of function research,” he added.

Upon the publication of the letter, Paul tweeted “ ‘I told you so’ doesn’t even begin to cover it here.”

Top health officials, however, are rejecting that interpretation. NIH Director Francis Collins told The Washington Post in an interview last week that the experiment did not include “gain of function” research.

Fauci responded to Paul’s comments during an interview with George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosBaldwin says he doesn't feel guilty for 'Rust' shooting: Someone else 'is responsible' Baldwin details how gun misfired on 'Rust' set despite trigger never being pulled Baldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' MORE on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, saying he “totally disagree[s] with Sen. Paul."

“The funding at the Wuhan Institute was to be able to determine what is out there in the environment, in bat viruses in China. And the research was very strictly under what we call a framework of oversight of the type of research,” Fauci said.

“And under those conditions which we have explained very, very clearly, does not constitute research of gain of function of concern. There are people who interpret it that way, but when you look at the framework under which the guidance is, that is not the case. So I have to respectfully disagree with Senator Paul. He is not correct that we lied or misled the Congress. It's just not correct,” he added.

ADVERTISEMENT

Fauci also said it is “molecularly impossible” for the viruses studied in the Wuhan experiment to turn into SARS-CoV-2 “because they were distant enough molecularly that no matter what you did to them, they could never, ever become SARS-CoV-2.”

“And yet when people talk about gain of function, they make that implication which I think is unconscionable to do, to say, well, maybe that research led to SARS-CoV-2. You can ask any person of good faith who’s a virologist, and they will tell you, absolutely clearly, that that would be molecularly impossible,” he added.

Paul, however, told Allen he thinks people throughout the U.S. are “very disturbed at how much he’s lied.” When pressed on Congress’s next steps considering the low odds of Biden firing Fauci, Paul pointed to congressional investigations and hearings.

“We're calling for an investigation and hearings on this, we've been calling for that for months. But you're right, there's been a great deal of resistance on the Democrat side, but would we not want to know the origin of the virus, and to know if it came from a lab, particularly since this research still goes on,” he said.