The House Intelligence Committee minority staff congressional report on the origin of COVID-19 has concluded that there is “no evidence” that the virus came from nature, but there are indications that it may be “tied to China’s biological weapons research program and spilled over to the human population during a lab-related incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
On a call last week, Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a House Intelligence Committee member told members of the press when asked about consequences to China if this is conclusive, he replied, “I think we’re a long way from getting to that point, because we don’t, as they say in this report, we don’t have a smoking gun.”
“We don’t have something definitive. So it depend on what actually happened. You know, as we dig deeper, maybe we’ll come to the conclusion that it didn’t come from the lab. But, right now there’s no evidence that it came from nature,” he added.
Wenstrup is calling for an end to the U.S. cooperation with China on any gain-of-function research.
The report found that the U.S. intelligence community (IC) was not forthcoming when asked some pertinent questions thus far.
The minority declassified report “claimed the IC was able to reach “broad agreement” that the virus was not developed as a biological weapon. Despite the fact the IC relayed its confidence levels for nearly every other assessment in the declassified report – low confidence, moderate confidence, etc. – the IC failed to disclose to the public its confidence level regarding this bioweapons assessment,” states The unclassified report summary.
There are other key concerns cited in the minority report’s summary.
“The IC should be transparent regarding what it does or does not know regarding the relationship between the Fifth Institute of the PLA’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, which China has publicly admitted conducts bioweapons research and coronavirus experiments, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, particularly during 2019. It should also be transparent regarding any information it may have about Fifth Institute General Zhou Yusen, both regarding his research and the circumstances of his death,” reads the summary.
“The Committee believes the IC downplayed important information relating to the possible links between COVID-19 and China’s bioweapons research based in part on input from outside experts. The IC refuses to be transparent with the Committee regarding which experts it relied on. The Committee legally restricted a portion of the IC’s funding until it fully cooperates – but the IC thumbed its nose at Congress and unlawfully obligated the restricted funds anyway, without satisfying the Committee’s request,” further notes the summary.
“The Committee has also learned that U.S. taxpayer funds have been funneled to the Fifth Institute via U.S. universities who sub-awarded their grant funds to it. The Committee does not know if the scientists who funneled this money to the Fifth Institute, a known component of China’s bioweapons program, were among the experts the IC consulted regarding COVID-19’s origins,” concludes the summary.
"We have to be definitive and know what we're talking about before there's consequences," noted Wenstrup. "But I would certainly hope that we no longer engage with them in research like this. And if we are, I'd want to know why we are.”
"We're going to actually have an investigation where we are actually talking to key players that have been involved with this at every level," he said. "There's a lot of people we want to talk to that haven't had the chance to speak up, or been asked any questions. So that's the difference, but we have to do it in a bipartisan fashion." Westrup said the committee has seen enough evidence that raises eyebrows.
"We're not putting the blame game out there," Westrup said. "And there may come a point where we have to, but right now, we don't have evidence in that direction. But we have a lot of evidence that raises eyebrows and encourages us to drive on further."
The House Intelligence Committee under GOP leadership starting in 2023 will further investigate the findings of the new report.
Simultaneously, as the committee was collecting evidence and the intelligence committee has been notably stonewalling the Congressional investigation, an internal National Institutes of Health (NIH) presentation from June may reveal the stonewalling motives. With the democratic still in charge, if the lab leak were found to be credible perhaps the gain of function research may not be funded when the House returns with republican leadership.
The video of the NIH’s presentation on their legislative focus is damning evidence. Their staffer flagged legislative amendments aimed at defunding gain-of-function research as “amendments to watch” and argued that they were based on “conspiracy theories.”
The Director’s Report presentation, given June 9 at the 124th Advisory Committee to the Director Meeting and unearthed by taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project, identifies four amendments to the America Competes Act of 2022 as “amendments to watch.” All four amendments were introduced by Republican lawmakers and attempt to rein in funding for gain-of-function research in adversarial countries and work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“A lot of these have to do with policymakers reacting to many of the controversies, many of the conspiracy theories that swirled during the pandemic,” Adrienne Hallett, NIH Associate Director for Legislative Policy and Analysis, said during the meeting. “There’s a lot of conversation about enhanced pathogens … there’s a lot of conversation about international research, possible restrictions on different kinds of research.”
“There are a lot of permutations of this language that are out there and moving. We’re watching all of it, but I want you to be aware of it,” she continued. “If we get out of this calendar year without some kind of policy being made, next year I think this will come back.”
The NIH has funded, either directly or indirectly, gain-of-function research in the U.S. and abroad dating back years. There was a pause in that funding in place between 2014 and 2017 which was lifted during the Trump administration.
During Fauci’s deposition in one of the covid lawsuits a couple of weeks ago when asked what was gain of function, he deflected claiming it was too complex to explain.
CDMedia has covered Gain-of-function research for the last three years. Experts have stated consistently that Gain-of-function refers to scientific experimentation that makes pathogens more infectious, more deadly, or both.
“Our investigation is uncovering new evidence each day that connects NIH financial sponsorship to risky viral pathogen projects. We’re also seeing NIH’s blatant disregard for research processes that are supposed to mitigate risks that can cause pandemics like COVID-19,” said Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS). “Responsible efforts underway in Congress are designed to prevent funding for dangerous research that benefits the Chinese Communist Party and protect America’s public health. For the lead NIH Congressional liaison to lash out at these efforts as ‘conspiracy theories’ says to me that NIH leadership is feeling the walls closing in on their negligence. They’re afraid that the money is going to dry up soon and that they’re going to be held accountable for their role in the lab leak that led to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Marshall has been one of several Republican Senators who are determined to get to the bottom of the origins of COVID-19 and eliminate financial support for gain-of-function research.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said that it is “no conspiracy theory that NIH lost track of how taxpayer dollars were being spent on dangerous coronavirus studies in China’s Wuhan Institute.”
Subscribe to our evening newsletter to stay informed during these challenging times!!