by Zero Hedge

Rand Paul’s skewering of Anthony Fauci during a Congressional hearing earlier this week – followed by the senator’s announcement that he planned to write a letter to the DoJ asking that Fauci be investigated for lying to Congress – emerged as a major story. Even mainstream reporters like the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin asserted that Fauci hadn’t been truthful in his characterization of the NIH’s role in financing dangerous research involving bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The incident has clearly had an adverse impact on Fauci’s already tarnished reputation, and we imagine if the administration wasn’t in such a panic about the Delta variant, WaPo, CNN and NYT would be printing anonymously sourced stories about the administration’s growing frustration with Fauci and his – as Paul put it – potential “moral culpability”.

For those who haven’t been following along, here’s a quick summary: in the years before SARS-CoV-2 first started infecting people in Wuhan, the Fauci-led NIH gave grant money to an organization called EcoHealth Alliance. That group then turned around and funneled money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, to help finance ‘gain-of-function’ research on bat coronaviruses. ‘Gain-of-function’ research involves manipulating viruses to make them more virulent and infectious against humans in the hopes that the scientists will deepen their understanding of how they work, and how to prevent them. However, the Obama Administration made it illegal to finance this type of research with federal dollars, lifting the ban just days before President Trump took office.

As Sen. Paul pointed out before Congress, the report describing the research underway at the WIV involved “viruses that in nature only infect animals were manipulated in the Wuhan lab to gain the function of infecting humans. This research fits the definition of the research that the NIH said was subject to the pause in 2014-2017, a pause in funding on gain-of-function. But the NIH failed to recognize this.”

Reporting from the Australian shows Fauci has (in the past) been an outspoken proponent of this type of research, even claiming that pursuing it was “worth the risks” of a deadly pandemic. We suspect he feels different today.

Some have suggested that this is why Fauci pushed back so hard against the lab leak theory (until he finally acknowledged the theory’s ‘plausibility’). And Sen. Paul said during an interview on Fox News that Fauci is clearly too “conflicted” to be running the country’s COVID response.

Now, it looks like Fauci is fighting back once again. In a headline that will almost certainly be picked up by the MSM, Fauci is claiming that Paul’s “inflammatory” comments amounted to slander.

Both men accused one another of “lying” during a heated back-and-forth abotu the level of the National Institute of Health’s role in funding gain-of-function research at China’s WIV. Fauci made the remarks during an interview with MBNBC’s “The Beat” Wednesday evening.

“I don’t any take great pleasure, Ari, in clashing with the senator,” Fauci said. “I have a great deal of respect for the institution of the Senate of the United States.”

“But he was completely out of line,” the doctor continued. “He totally distorted reality. And he made some inflammatory and, I believe, slanderous remarks about lying under oath, which is completely nonsense.”

“I mean, and some of the things he says are so distorted and out of tune with reality, I had to call him on that,” he added. “I didn’t enjoy it, but I had to do that because he was completely out of line. Totally inappropriate.”

Watch the clip below:

Of course, Fauci didn’t get into the details of Paul’s claim, nor offer to explain exactly why Paul is incorrect. And MSNBC’s Ari Melber seemed just fine with that.