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Sen. Rand Paul plans to file criminal referral with DOJ against Dr. Fauci: 'He should be punished'

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Dr. Anthony Fauci (left) (J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images); and Sen. Rand Paul (Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) announced Tuesday that he will send a criminal referral on Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, to the Justice Department.

Paul's announcement came on the same day that he and Dr. Fauci engaged in a heated exchange during a congressional hearing in which each man accused the other of lying.

What are the details?

During an appearance on Fox News, host Sean Hannity noted that Paul began his questioning of Fauci on Tuesday by emphasizing that federal law makes lying to Congress a felony, punishable by imprisonment.

When Hannity asked if Paul believes Fauci broke that law, he answered in the affirmative.

"I will be sending a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a criminal referral, because he has lied to Congress," Paul said.

According to Paul, Dr. Fauci has been lying about whether his agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where it is theorized the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"We have scientists that were lined up by the dozens to say that the research he was funding was gain-of-function," Paul explained. "He's doing this because he has a self-interest to cover his tracks and to cover his connection to Wuhan lab.

"Now does he deserve all the blame? No, there's still some conjecture as to whether or not it came from the lab," Paul continued. "But he's lying about whether or not he funded gain-of-function research, and yes, he should be punished."

Paul earlier explained that he believed Fauci's work emails — which were published by BuzzFeed News last month — demonstrated Fauci's worry over his agency's culpability in COVID-19 because of the alleged gain-of-function research funding into the Wuhan biolab.

"From the very beginning, I think he was covering up because he realized that there would be a great deal of culpability, of blame attached to him if a lab that he was funding through the NIH turned out to be the source of a pandemic that caused 4 million people to die," Paul said. "That could be the worst governmental decision in history of the world."

Anything else?

After Tuesday's newsworthy exchange between Paul and Fauci, a Washington Post columnist explained that Paul is correct.

"Hey guys, @RandPaul was right and Fauci was wrong. The NIH was funding gain of function research in Wuhan but NIH pretended it didn't meet their 'gain of function' definition to avoid their own oversight mechanism. SorryNotSorry if that doesn't fit your favorite narrative," Josh Rogin said.

The crux of the problem is whether a taxpayer-funded grant from the National Institutes of Health to nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which was then sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for the purposes of conducting research on bat coronaviruses, constitutes gain-of-function research.

The NIH has denied that it wasn't, while many others, like Paul, claim it was.

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