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Tags: rep. brad wenstrup | house | covid | china | fauci | investigation | report

Rep. Wenstrup: COVID Probe, Report 'Not Vindictive'

By    |   Thursday, 15 December 2022 02:15 PM EST

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who's leading the House GOP investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, on Thursday discussed information released from a minority staff report.

The report, issued by members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, comes as the panel is working to get to the truth. It examines the intelligence community's reluctance to admit the virus could have started as part of China's bioweapons program. 

"We're not vindictive in our approach," Wenstrup, R-Ohio, said during a conference call with media members. "We just want to get to the truth."

In a summary of the report, the committee determined that the intelligence community had withheld key information from the public that could have been shared without creating danger to national security. However, the report said, the omissions "likely skewed the public's understanding and deepened mistrust."

The intelligence community also did not disclose to the public its confidence level about the bioweapons assessment, despite saying it had reached "broad agreement" that the unique coronavirus was not developed as a biological weapon.

Every other assessment in the now declassified report has confidence levels attached to it, the committee's report said. 

Wenstrup insisted that the report contains no "smoking gun," and that there is no proof that the virus was leaked intentionally. Still, as he pointed out, the Chinese have discussed in a document written by scientists and health officials in 2015 that the SARS coronavirus eventually could be manipulated into use for genetic weapons. 

This brings new concerns about money that was funneled through agencies such as the EcoHealth Alliance to China to finance gain-of-function research, said Wenstrup, who added that the intelligence community "has not shared any information with us." 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, retiring director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has come under fire from Republicans because grant money was awarded to the EcoHealth Alliance for the use of coronavirus studies at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where one theory claims the novel coronavirus began. 

Fauci has challenged the legislative investigation, but Wenstrup insisted Thursday that "we're just speaking the truth" and he hopes the continuing investigation will be done in a bipartisan manner.

The congressman also pointed out that in a 2014 interview, Fauci was asked if he was concerned if a deadly virus would escape from research laboratories. At the time, Fauci said he thought the benefit of research outweighs the risks. 

Wenstrup also said that he doesn't think it's being confrontational with China to ask Beijing to be upfront about the pandemic's beginnings, as "we're just trying to get to the truth."

There are differences between the classified report on the virus and the unclassified, and Wenstrup said he can't reveal at this time what the differences are. 

"We have this responsibility to protect our national security and national health," he said. "We hope to be able to get people in front of us to answer this."

He also commented that there is "not a lot of communication" between the White House and the intelligence community. 

"I'm into the science," Wenstrup said. "I'm a physician. A lot of questions need to be answered."

The World Health Organization also needs to be more transparent and share its data, and questions need to be answered from the entities that were receiving grants, Wenstrup said.

"In this situation, we need to get all the answers we can so we can be prepared" against other pandemics, he added. 

The committee, meanwhile, "will use subpoena power" when it needs to to get further information from the intelligence community, including with the office of the director of national intelligence, Wenstrup said. 

"We hope we can find out who within the intelligence community was making the decisions that are in the report," he said. "None of this should be a surprise to us."

The report also doesn't include, as part of the investigation, whether the novel coronavirus was developed in a lab or came through an animal, but Wenstrup said that based on patterns, the Wuhan wet market may have been the "first superspreader," but doesn't specify where the virus came from. 

Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party likely feels "emboldened" by the U.S. media fighting against investigating the origins of the disease, Wenstrup said. 

But when asked what consequences China could face over the pandemic, Wenstrup said, "We're a long way from getting to that point."

"We don't have a smoking gun," he said. "We don't have something definitive. "

However, he said there is "no evidence" that the virus came from nature rather than a lab, as it would have taken a "long way" to develop the virus that sparked the pandemic from its closest-related coronavirus. 

Wenstrup said that as the investigation moves forward, there will be people who are allowed to speak who haven't had that opportunity. 

"We're not putting the blame game out there," said Wenstrup, who added that the investigation has revealed "serious shortcomings" with the classified and declassified versions of the intelligence community's assessments. 

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who's leading the House GOP investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, on Thursday discussed information released from a minority staff report.
rep. brad wenstrup, house, covid, china, fauci, investigation, report
Thursday, 15 December 2022 02:15 PM
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