Chris Lange, FISM News
The White House on Monday appeared to try to downplay Sunday’s Wall Street Journal report that the Department of Energy determined that the COVID-19 pandemic likely resulted from a lab leak in China, asserting that there has been no consensus on the subject.
“The intelligence community and the rest of the government is still looking at this,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Monday at a press briefing.
“There’s not been a definitive conclusion, so it’s difficult for me to say, nor should I feel like I should have to defend press reporting about a possible preliminary indication here,” Kirby continued. “What the president wants is facts. He wants the whole government designed to go get those facts. And that’s what we’re doing, and we’re just not there yet.”
The Energy Department (DOE) reportedly cited unspecified new intelligence as the basis for its “low confidence” determination — but determination nonetheless — that a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) most likely caused the global pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 1.1 million Americans, per Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data. The report is similar to findings by the FBI last year.
“The president made trying to find the origins of COVID a priority when he came into office, and he’s got a whole government effort designed to do that,” Kirby said. “There is not a consensus in the U.S. government about how COVID started. There is not an intelligence community consensus.”
The report on the DOE’s new position also followed a Senate minority report from October of last year detailing “substantial evidence” in support of the theory.
The WIV was known to have been researching coronaviruses, and the fact that it was designated as “ground zero” early on in the pandemic raised suspicions of an accidental lab leak. House Republicans last month launched an investigation into the Wuhan lab and the origins of the pandemic.
The lab leak theory was widely panned by Democrats and legacy media as “misinformation” and a conservative-backed “conspiracy theory” in the early days of the pandemic. Physicians and conservatives who even mentioned the theory were routinely censored or deplatformed on social media.
WHITE HOUSE: GAIN OF FUNCTION RESEARCH BENEFITS ‘OUTWEIGHED RISK’
Kirby also defended U.S. taxpayer-funded gain of function (GOF) research — the same research that was conducted by the Wuhan lab — saying that President Biden supports it. When asked by a reporter whether President Biden believed the rewards of such research “outweighed the risk,” Kirby said,
[President Biden] believes that it’s important to help prevent future pandemics, which means, he understands that there has to be legitimate scientific research into the sources or potential sources of pandemics so that we understand it, so that we can prevent them, we prevent them from happening, obviously, but he also believes in — and this is why he wants the whole of government effort here to understand it — that that research has to be done must be done in a safe and secure manner, as and as transparent as possible to the rest of the world, so that so people know what’s going on.
According to the National Institutes for Health, gain of function research involves creating more dangerous strains of a virus or disease for the purpose of obtaining a scientific benefit.
REPUBLICANS DOUBLE DOWN ON PANDEMIC ORIGINS PROBE, CALL FOR DOCS DECLASSIFICATION
Former White House chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, faced intense questioning from Republicans on Capitol Hill in October 2021 over his role in funding gain of function research at the WIV and, as such, his alleged conflict of interest in serving as the White House’s COVID-19 czar.
The hearings included particularly acrimonious exchanges between the doctor and Sen. Rand Paul, who had long advocated for Fauci to get pink-slipped for repeatedly “lying” about the pandemic’s origins. Fauci stepped down from his position at the White House in November.
The Kentucky Republican on Monday called for the declassification of the documents referenced by the DOE in the leaked report.
“Classified documents leaked (they should be declassified!) showing scientists at DOE believe COVID leaked from Wuhan Lab,” Paul declared Monday in a tweet. Included in the post was a link to the Wall Street Journal article.
Fauci also downplayed the leaked DOE report, telling The Boston Globe on Monday, “we may never know” the source of the outbreak.
“I don’t see any data for a lab leak,” Fauci said, though he added: “That doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened.”
‘WE PAID FOR THE DAMN LAB’
Meanwhile, New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R) said on ‘Fox & Friends First’ Monday that the American people want the truth about the origins of COVID after hearing repeated lies and “misinformation” from Dr. Anthony Fauci and officials.
“It’s enough. People are tired. They want a government that tells them the truth. They want a government that works for them,” Van Drew said. The former Democrat referred to the alleged culpability of the U.S. government in backing GOF research in China that potentially unleashed the deadly virus as “sick stuff.”
“[W]e have an administration that doesn’t have the guts to go forward and get the truth out of [China]. And we paid for that part of it all. We paid for the damn lab.”
STATE DEPT INSISTS BIDEN ‘REPEATEDLY’ PRESSED XI ON COVID-19 ORIGINS
State Department spokesperson Ned Price insisted at a Monday press briefing that the president and top administration officials have “repeatedly” pressed Beijing for information on the subject.
“The President has raised this, the Secretary [of State] has raised this, the National Security Adviser has raised this, it’s been raised repeatedly and consistently at various levels because it is that important to us,” Price said, citing administration efforts to “impress upon the [People’s Republic of China] the importance of transparency.”