Fauci, Paul clash on virus origins, trade charges of lying

Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to accusations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about the origin of COVID-19, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)
Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to accusations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about the origin of COVID-19, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

A recurring clash between the government’s top infectious disease doctor and a U.S. senator has erupted again on Capitol Hill, with each accusing the other of lying

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, angrily confronted Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday in testimony on Capitol Hill, rejecting Paul's insinuation that the U.S. helped fund research at a Chinese lab that could have sparked the COVID-19 outbreak.

Paul suggested that Fauci had lied before Congress when in May he denied that the National Institutes of Health funded so-called “gain of function” research — the practice of enhancing a virus in a lab to study its potential impact in the real world — at a Wuhan virology lab. U.S. intelligence agencies are currently exploring theories that an accidental leak from that lab could have led to the global pandemic.

“I have not lied before Congress. I have never lied. Certainly not before Congress. Case closed,” Fauci told Paul before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, saying a study the senator mentioned referenced a different sort of virus entirely from the one responsible for the coronavirus outbreak.

“Senator Paul, you do not know what you’re talking about, quite frankly,” Fauci said. "And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you’re talking about.”

He added, “If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you.”

It was the latest in a series of clashes between Paul and Fauci over the origins of the virus that caused the global pandemic.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Credit: Stefani Reynolds

Credit: Stefani Reynolds

Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci pushes back on statements by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)
Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci pushes back on statements by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., questions top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing onon COVID-19, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., questions top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing onon COVID-19, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Credit: Stefani Reynolds

Credit: Stefani Reynolds

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Credit: Stefani Reynolds

Credit: Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Credit: Stefani Reynolds

Credit: Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Credit: Stefani Reynolds

Credit: Stefani Reynolds