The debate about COVID-19's origin seems very similar to the controversy involving the now-discredited Steele dossier, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday in an opinion column.
Graham, in a Fox News op-ed, also said scientists’ early dismissals of suggestions the coronavirus pandemic could be the result of a leak at a Chinese laboratory played a role in President Joe Biden winning the 2020 election. Former President Donald Trump was an early proponent of investigating the lab leak theory.
The Steele dossier led to an investigation into alleged ties between Russia and Trump, and the probe acted as a cloud over the Trump presidency for much of its four years.
Graham questioned if scientists seeking the origin of coronavirus have followed the same path as former FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok in the Russia investigation – pursuing an outcome, not following the facts.
“As more facts come to light, we are now learning it does appear the science was compromised, and there may have been a 'Deep State' science department which put an outcome – dismissal of the lab leak theory – over science,” said Graham, who added that scientists' dismissal of the lab leak theory affected voters' thinking last year.
"Americans would have demanded a tougher line against the Chinese communist regime and would have been looking for a Commander in Chief to lead the charge. There is no doubt in my mind this would have benefited President Trump much more than Joe Biden."
In January 2020, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., pointed to the lab's location in Wuhan, pressing the Chinese government for answers, according to the Washington Post. That April, Trump said the government was looking into the possibility of a leak at a laboratory in China.
The earliest known tweet suggesting China created the virus occurred on Jan. 5, 2020. “18 years ago, #China killed nearly 300 #HongKongers by unreporting #SARS cases, letting Chinese tourists travel around the world, to Asia specifically to spread the virus with bad intention. Today the evil regime strikes again with a new virus,” @GarboHK tweeted, the Post reported.
However, in February 2020, a group of 27 scientists wrote a letter in The Lancet, an international medical journal, in which they shot down the "conspiracy theory" of COVID-19 origins.
"We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin," wrote the scientists, who added: “We want you, the science and health professionals of China, to know that we stand with you in your fight against this virus."
Graham then provided what he saw as a smoking gun.
“We now know that one of the leaders in coordinating The Lancet letter was Dr. Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance,” Graham wrote. “Daszak is a close collaborator with the Wuhan Institute of Virology and their lead investigator on bat viruses, Shi Zhengli, also known as ‘Bat Woman.’”
Graham said another letter from 5 virologists in Nature Medicine in March 2020 added to the narrative by saying they did not see a lab leak as “plausible.”
"There is no doubt in my mind the combination of prominent scientists coming out strongly against the lab leak theory, along with officials from the State Department shutting down additional inquiries, ended up being two of the most consequential events in the 2020 election cycle," Graham said.
"Their early and near-total dismissal of the lab leak theory played a prominent role in the defeat of President Trump in the 2020 presidential race."
Graham suggested scientists' early dismissal of the Wuhan lab theory "created a narrative that President Trump was out of touch and spreading right-wing conspiracy theories. It was narrative that the elite media, who hated President Trump with a burning passion, was only too happy to help spread."
In recent weeks, it has been learned other scientists immediately expressed concerns that COVID-19 resulted from a lab leak, and the concerns went to top government officials, who ignored the suggestion.
“Was this line of inquiry shut down because it would have validated President Trump’s claims? Were scientists covering up their own negligence regarding the U.S. relationship with and funding of the Wuhan lab? Is it a mixture of both? Neither?" Graham asked.
More than 3.7 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide, and that includes more than 600,000 Americans.
"Some of the scientists who initially said it was a lab leak think the origins of COVID-19 need to be revisited and further investigation is warranted," Graham concluded. "I agree."
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