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A February 2020 statement signed by more than two dozen scientists that claimed the coronavirus naturally jumped from humans to animals was “orchestrated” to hurt then-President Donald Trump politically, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) charged Tuesday night.
“This is the Russia dossier all over again,” Graham told Fox News’ “Hannity.” “This stinks to high heaven. This is lab-gate, China-gate, call it whatever you want to call it.”
Graham was referring to a message published in the British medical journal The Lancet that dismissed the theory that the virus accidentally leaked out of a virology lab in Wuhan, China.
“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin … Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumors, and prejudice that jeopardize our global collaboration in the fight against this virus,” read the statement, which was signed by 27 scientists.
Graham described the message as “political document shaming” Trump, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and others who espoused the so-called “lab leak theory” early in the pandemic.
“The media took it and ran, and it changed the course of the election,” Graham told host Sean Hannity. “Why? Because number one, the scientists are tied to this lab. They were covering their ass. They put out a letter not based on science, but a political document trying to destroy the credibility of people who suggested it came out of a lab.”
Vanity Fair reported last week that the Lancet statement was organized by Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit that funneled federal grant money from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Last week, New York City microbiologist Peter Palese told The Daily Mail that he was no longer convinced that the virus had a zoonotic origin.
“A lot of disturbing information has surfaced since the Lancet letter I signed,” Palese said, “so I want to see answers covering all questions.”
“If Trump was right [about the lab leak theory], it would have changed the outcome of the 2020 election, I believe,” Graham said. “And if we could have proven that early on in 2020 it was a lab leak coming from China, not occurring naturally, the public would want revenge against China, and who would they turn to, Biden or Trump?”
“I think this letter by these scientists was orchestrated by somebody to shoot down the idea of the lab leak because they were worried about their own ass being in the sling because of their relationship with China,” Graham concluded, “and I think there was a political motivation here to destroy Trump’s credibility.”
President Biden called on the intelligence community last month to undertake a 90-day review of all evidence related to the origin of the coronavirus.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that in May 2020, a classified report from a top government laboratory concluded that the lab leak theory was plausible and should be investigated further. That report apparently went undiscovered for months until a State Department intelligence analyst discovered it that fall. The paper was used to galvanize the department’s own investigation into the coronavirus origin, which was shut down by the Biden administration earlier this spring.
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