Rep. Rob Wittman, one of the House Republicans who introduced a bill this week calling for sanctions on top Chinese health officials and an independent investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, told Newsmax Thursday that the measure is critical for holding China accountable.
"We know those Chinese health officials with early ties to COVID-19 obfuscated data," the Virginia Republican said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "They were not direct and forthright with what happened there in the laboratory, and if we can't get the truth about what happened, then, first of all, I believe that we have to infer Chinese actions as not being friendly to the rest of the world and we can't learn what we need to do to prevent this from happening again."
Wittman said he wants to point to President Joe Biden, who said he wanted to send American scientists to China to investigate the virus' origins and "now they're backing away from that."
"We should be pushing forward with that," said Wittman. "We should demand, and the world should demand that China has an open and independent evaluation of what happened there."
People cannot allow themselves to be intimidated by China, the lawmaker added, because if they do, "China will only get away with more and more severe issues that they deal with, with the rest of the world. This is not acceptable. We have to have an open and transparent investigation of how this happened and what went on there at the Wuhan Institute of Virology."
He agreed that there may not be much evidence left at the facility, but still, said the United States, and other countries, must demand the investigation.
"I'm a biologist by training," Wittman said. "I oversaw and worked in laboratories that dealt with pathogenic organisms. I know how incredibly important it is to have strict controls there ... I think you can see that there could be even other purposes behind what happened in that laboratory, other than just the gain of function and that is genetically manipulating these viruses to see what happens to them if they get more virulent. I mean, we have to understand this, if not. This could happen again."
Wittman also said he thinks National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci needs to "be held accountable" and to "divulge all of his decisions" that led to sending U.S. dollars to China.
"I don't believe that he has been transparent," said Wittman. "I don't believe that we know everything that we must know about what decisions were made by Dr. Fauci and others in U.S. agencies about sending dollars to China and the information that was out there concerning efforts in China on virus research."
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