Pompeo accused Fauci of obfuscating on the question of whether the U.S. funds dangerous research in China.
Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo is escalating his attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, telling National Review that the top NIH official should be removed from his post for refusing to acknowledge that the U.S. was funding dangerous virology research in China — and for continuing to defend such funding despite the events of the past year.
During several tense exchanges with Senator Rand Paul, Fauci has argued that the research being conducted in Wuhan with American dollars does not qualify as “gain-of-function,” though previously published papers by Chinese scientists credit the U.S. with funding experiments designed to make bat coronaviruses more contagious, which fits the NIH’s own previously published definition of gain-of-function research.
Fauci and Paul have traded blows in congressional hearings for months, but things came to a head in early July when Paul accused Fauci of lying to Congress. Fauci insisted he’s never lied to Congress and said the Wuhan research “was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function,” citing the extremely narrow gain-of-function definition developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, rather than the one commonly used by virologists.
But the specific label is beside the point, according to Pompeo.
“My wife and I always taught our son, you tell the whole truth, you don’t quibble,” Pompeo said during a Monday night interview. “He is at best playing some sophisticated word game for his elitist doctor buddies. I don’t know the purpose of it but it’s dangerous.”
Fauci defended the NIH’s partnership with the Wuhan lab as recently as Sunday, and suggested that the agency has no plans to cut off funding for the kind of research which mounting circumstantial evidence suggests sparked the pandemic.
“We’ve always been very careful. And, looking forward, we will continue to be very careful in what we do,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Putting aside the question of whether U.S.-funded research caused the pandemic, Pompeo argued that Fauci should be removed over his refusal to adjust his thinking on the question of funding Chinese virology labs after witnessing the havoc of the last year.
“That’s crazy,” Pompeo said of Fauci’s desire to continue funding dangerous research on bat coronaviruses in poorly run Chinese labs.
“The entire laboratory system inside the CCP operates in a way that we would never operate in the West,” he said. “While I’m loath to describe Dr. Fauci as personally responsible, the fact that he continues to want to direct funding there suggests he should no longer be serving in American government.”
In 2015 — less than a year after the Obama administration paused domestic gain-of-function research due to safety concerns — the NIH began funding such research at the Wuhan lab through the American research non-profit EcoHealth Alliance.
The lab eventually attracted the attention of the State Department. In 2018, diplomats were sent to inspect the lab and subsequently sent cables to Washington warning that Chinese researchers were not taking adequate safety precautions while experimenting on dangerous bat coronaviruses. But the cables were ignored.
The Biden administration’s confidence in foreign virology research does not appear to have been shaken by the events of the last year: Not only does the NIH plan to continue its partnership with the Wuhan lab through EcoHealth Alliance, it also plans to spend $1.2 billion to increase its contribution to the Global Virome Project, which works to recover viruses from nature in order to make them more transmissible in labs, including in China.
Pompeo joins several prominent congressional Republicans, including House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, have called on Biden to fire Fauci, citing his lack of public support.
“The American people don’t have trust in Dr. Fauci,” McCarthy told Breitbart News in June. “Let’s find a person we can trust. Take politics aside, I mean we’re talking about American lives here.”
House Republicans, meanwhile, have introduced two separate bills that would bar Fauci from government service.