GOP senators demand answers on CIA whistleblower allegations of COVID-19 origins
GOP lawmakers sent a letter this week to CIA Director William Burns after a whistleblower claimed that analysts probing COVID-19 origins were offered money to alter their stance that the virus likely came from a Wuhan lab leak.
Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., joined their House counterparts in demanding answers from Burns, such as all of the ‘documents and communications between or among the members of all iterations of the COVID Discovery Team(s) regarding the origins of COVID-19.’
Paul told Fox News Digital in a statement Thursday, ‘This is one of the biggest cover-ups in our nation’s history, and we deserve answers.’
‘Department of Energy scientists concluded COVID-19 came from a lab,’ Paul wrote. ‘FBI scientists concluded COVID-19 came from a lab. We’ve been told six of seven CIA scientists also concluded COVID-19 came from a lab but were paid to change their minds.’
In Tuesday’s letter, the senators wrote that the whistleblower allegations ‘are deeply concerning and raise serious questions about the Agency’s investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.’
They also demanded to know all ‘communications regarding the pay history, to include the awarding of any type of financial or performance-based incentive/financial bonus to members of all iterations of the COVID Discovery Team.’
The request seeks documents and communications related to the origins of COVID-19 among members of the COVID Discovery Teams as well as exchanges with employees or contractors of various federal agencies, including the State Department, FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services (including NIH and NIAID) and the Department of Energy.
Lawmakers set a Sept. 25 deadline for a response.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified report on COVID-19 origins in June, which analyzed the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s role in the lab leak theory.
The intelligence community remains undecided on whether the pandemic resulted from a lab leak or natural animal exposure. Different agencies hold varying opinions, with the National Intelligence Council favoring natural origin while the Energy Department and FBI lean toward a lab leak.
The CIA and other intelligence agencies have not reached a conclusion due to conflicting evidence and assumptions.
Fox News Digital previously obtained letters that the House Coronavirus Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, sent to the CIA and a former official with regard to the whistleblower claims.
‘The Select Committee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have received new and concerning whistleblower testimony regarding the Agency’s investigation into the origins of COVID-19,’ Wenstrup and Turner wrote to CIA Director William Burns on Tuesday.
‘A multi-decade, senior-level, current Agency officer has come forward to provide information to the Committees regarding the Agency’s analysis into the origins of COVID-19,’ they wrote.
The CIA purportedly assigned seven officers to a COVID Discovery Team, the whistleblower said, which included ‘multi-disciplinary and experienced officers with significant scientific expertise.’
‘According to the whistleblower, at the end of its review, six of the seven members of the Team believed that intelligence and science were sufficient to make a low confidence assessment that COVID-19 originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China,’ the House pair wrote.
‘The seventh member of the Team, who also happened to be the most senior, was the one officer to believe COVID-19 originated through zoonosis,’ or an animal origin.
Fox News’ Digital reached out to the CIA for comment. In a previous statement, spokesperson Tammy Kupperman Thorp said, ‘At CIA we are committed to the highest standards of analytic rigor, integrity, and objectivity. We do not pay analysts to reach specific conclusions. We take these allegations extremely seriously and are looking into them. We will keep our Congressional oversight committees appropriately informed.’
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Rich Edson contributed to this report.