Longtime tensions over the coronavirus between Rand Paul and chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci are quite well-documented, but the Republican senator from Kentucky just took things up a notch, with a threat on what might happen if the GOP flips the Senate in the midterms later this year. "If we win in November, if I'm chairman of a committee, if I have subpoena power, we'll go after every one of [Fauci's] records," Paul said Friday during an interview with anti-vax podcast host Lisa Boothe, per the Hill. The outlet notes the 59-year-old senator could indeed end up at the helm of the Senate Health Committee, as Sen. Richard Burr, the panel's current ranking member, is retiring.
"We'll have an investigator go through this piece by piece, because we don't need this to happen again," Paul continued in the podcast. What the senator wants probed are his claims that Fauci and the National Institutes of Health—the parent agency of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Fauci has helmed for nearly 40 years—helped fund a virology lab in Wuhan, China, which in turn (as Paul's theory goes) may have created the novel coronavirus now wreaking havoc worldwide. Paul has also suggested that the funding he speaks of was used for "gain of function" research on how to make viruses more contagious, an allegation Fauci has denied.
The Hill and Insider both note that China has blocked investigations into the source of the virus, making it difficult, if not impossible, to get to the root of the virus's origins. Some wonder if the virus had been created in the lab (though the Hill notes there's little evidence of this) and then accidentally leaked, or let out into the world on purpose. Still other theories involve the virus originating in nature.
Fauci and Paul—an ophthalmologist who's had his YouTube channel temporarily suspended in the past for face mask misinformation—have also gotten into tiffs about COVID in general, including on the efficacy of masks and vaccines. Fauci has accused the senator of inciting anger against him, to the point where he's gotten death threats and his family has been harassed. "When he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue ... that kindles the crazies out there," Fauci said last month. (Read more Rand Paul stories.)