Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Monday called for the Biden administration to declassify government documents that reportedly show the Energy Department assessing the COVID-19 pandemic likely originated from an accidental lab leak in China.
The Energy Department, which had been undecided on the origin of the pandemic, now joins the FBI in concluding the coronavirus likely spread due to a mishap at a Chinese laboratory, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a classified intelligence report provided to the White House and key members of Congress.
The development, which was noted in an update to a 2021 document by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’s office, prompted Paul to call for greater transparency.
“Classified documents leaked (they should be declassified!) showing scientists at DOE believe COVID leaked from Wuhan Lab,” Paul tweeted, calling for greater transparency.
REPUBLICANS ERUPT AFTER ENERGY DEPT REPORTEDLY SAYS COVID-19 LIKELY CAME FROM CHINESE LAB: ‘WE NEED ANSWERS’
The so-called “lab leak theory,” according to which the virus came from a 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.
Paul was hardly the only Republican lawmakers to call for answers and accountability following news of the Energy Department’s assessment.
Congressional Republicans quickly took to Twitter, demanding apologies from those who dismissed the lab leak theory and for China to be held accountable.
ANOTHER US AGENCY ASSESSES COVID-19 ORIGIN LIKELY A CHINESE ‘LAB LEAK’: REPORT
Beyond the FBI and Energy Department, the National Intelligence Council and four other agencies assess at “low confidence” that the COVID-19 pandemic originated due to natural transmission from an infected animal, while the CIA and another unnamed agency are undecided, according to the Wall Street Journal.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was asked about the Journal’s report during a Sunday appearance on CNN.
“There is a variety of views in the intelligence community. Some elements in the intelligence community have reached conclusions on one side, some on the other. A number of them have said they just don’t have enough information to be sure,” said Sullivan. “Here’s what I can tell you: President Biden has directed repeatedly every element of our intelligence community to put effort and resources behind getting to the bottom of this question.”
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China has rejected claims that the virus could have originated from one of its labs and has curtailed the World Health Organization’s investigations into the origins of the pandemic. The updated intelligence report showing the Energy Department’s assessment maintains a consensus between all the intelligence agencies that the pandemic was not the result of a Chinese bioweapons program.
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