Senate Republicans demand DOJ sue Chinese Communist Party over role in COVID-19 pandemic
A group of Republican senators is pressing the Department of Justice to pursue legal action against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for its role in the COVID-19 pandemic after federal authorities lent credibility to the Wuhan lab-leak theory.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and five other GOP senators sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday asking what legal actions DOJ plans to take against the CCP after the U.S. Department of Energy, with “low confidence,” conduced that the virus that causes COVID-19 likely leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
“More than 1.1 million Americans have died due to COVID-19 in the past three years, and untold millions more have suffered, and continue to suffer, physical and economic harms related to the pandemic,” the letter states.
“We write to ask what legal action you have pursued or plan to pursue as U.S. Attorney General against the Chinese Communist Party officials responsible for that lab leak and/or its cover up to vindicate the interests of the millions of Americans who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?”
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The Energy Department’s assessment was reportedly noted in a classified 2021 document that was updated by Director of National intelligence Avril Haines’ office.
The “lab leak theory,” according to which COVID-19 came from an accidental lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, was widely dismissed as a conspiracy theory and “misinformation” by Democrats, major news outlets, scientists and social media companies in the early stages of the pandemic.
However, as time has passed, circumstantial evidence continues to give the theory legs, and the alternative natural origin hypothesis embraced by most scientists has not been conclusively proven.
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Following the Energy Department’s assessment, lawmakers in both parties have pushed for further investigation into the origins of COVID-19. The House and Senate unanimously passed legislation introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., that would instruct the Biden administration to declassify intelligence related to any potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origins of the pandemic.
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held a hearing on the virus’ origins on March 8. Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield testified that he believes Chinese scientists at the Wuhan lab engaged in gain-of-function research — a branch of scientific experimentation where pathogens are enhanced to be more pathogenic or deadly in order to develop preventative treatments or vaccines — and that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was likely a product of that research that somehow escaped.
The Republicans, in their letter, charged Garland to hold the Chinese government accountable for its role in the pandemic and invited DOJ to identify any “legal impediment” that exists to them doing so.
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“We wholeheartedly welcome the opportunity to draft appropriate legislation to remove those barriers to pursuing justice for the millions of Americans harmed by the misconduct of the Chinese Communist Party,” the senators wrote.
The letter was co-signed by Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn.
Fox News’ Aaron Kliegman contributed to this report.