The report, published by researchers at the government-backed Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in May 2020, found that the coronavirus may have escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, according to four people familiar with the document, at a time when the investigation was considered a political taboo.
It is not clear to what extent the newspaper’s findings were to improve the government’s understanding of the origin of the virus, nor whether the document weighed on a heated debate over whether the type of coronavirus research in the lab may have contributed to Covid. – 19. The report also finds that the virus may have evolved naturally in the wild – repeating what the intelligence community now says it believes ̵
But the report has gained new political power on Capitol Hill as the possibility of a pandemic stemming from research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology has gained major legitimacy in recent months.
According to two Congressional sources, the document has been available to key lawmakers on Capitol Hill since last year. But some Capitol Hill Republicans are disappointed that they did not have access to the document before. GOP members of the Energy and Trade Committee have in recent weeks called on the energy department for more information on the report, which is classified as “top secret”.
“[Livermore] is one of the places we want answers from because we think they have a bigger piece of the puzzle than we originally thought in March, ”Griffith said.
One year after its first release, the report is no longer relevant to what it reveals, but because it offers some early support for the theory that the virus leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan at a time when at least public intelligence confirms that it believes the virus it is not “man-made” and probably came naturally. Meanwhile, two former officials close to the Trump administration’s investigations into the origins of the pandemic say the Livermore report was not discovered by politicians investigating the issue until months after its production – raising the specter for some former employees of the so-called deep state “career bureaucrats mistakenly bury information that confirms the political aspirations of the Trump administration.
Yet other congressional officials familiar with the report – even those who support the lab theory investigation – say Republicans on the energy committee classify his findings as a purely political ploy to establish Trump’s defense of the theory. leaking lab these people believe they have politicized the demand for the origins of Covid-19.
An official from the House Intelligence Committee said the committee had already reviewed the document as part of its investigation, and two other congressional officials said lawmakers from at least two other committees had previously had access to the report and were informed findings last year – if they had wanted it. It is not clear whether the legislators of the Energy and Trade Committee were among those who knew about the report’s existence.
Numerous sources have warned CNN that the document does not offer any “smoking gun” that proves one theory over another. The report largely comes to the same conclusion that the intelligence community has revealed publicly in recent weeks, according to many people familiar with it – that the “zoonotic” theory of the origin of the virus and the theory of laboratory leaks are plausible. But he offers some circumstantial evidence in support of the laboratory leakage theory, confirming what was then considered a final concept.
Republicans are urging the administration to declassify more information the U.S. government already has that could help scientists and public health experts come closer to an answer.
An evolving story
Congress’ interest in the Livermore report came when the Biden administration and the scientific community publicly stated that there was a legal possibility that the coronavirus had escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan – leaving Republicans who had long advanced this theory to feel justified.
For most of 2020, the pursuit of laboratory leak theory has been publicly treated as xenophobic, and in part thanks to an open letter signed by 27 scientists and published in an influential medical journal in February 2020, scientifically unfounded.
But in recent months, classified information has emerged that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, who are conducting those controversial studies that some scientists now believe may have led to the pandemic, fell ill in the fall of 2019, before the outbreak was known to have begun.
It also became public that the open letter – whose signatories at the time wrote that they “strongly condemn the conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 has no natural origin” – was not simply signed, but organized by a scientist involved in funding the species. a study at the Wuhan Institute of Virology that other scientists said could now give rise to SARS-Cov-2.
Many congressional sources have lamented the extent to which the theory of laboratory research leaks has been absorbed into the politics of the day, with some arguing that Trump’s public support for the hypothesis actually makes it difficult to investigate as a serious line of inquiry. At the time, critics argued that Trump was pushing the theory as a way to shift the blame for the growing number of victims of pandemic management from his administration to China – immediately tarnishing the objectivity of any effort to investigate the hypothesis. His xenophobic language about the virus – calling it “kung flu” – further condemned the investigation.
But former Trump officials now say their interest in the theory is justified as serious, not politically motivated – and that their efforts to investigate the issue have been thwarted by public health agencies as well as the intelligence community.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who publicly defended a laboratory leak hypothesis while in office, told Fox News on Thursday that the National Institutes of Health was “trying to stifle” the State Department’s investigative efforts. virology price Wuhan |
“It was a good job by the State Department team. We overcame a lot of internal bureaucracy,” Pompeo said.
“There were people everywhere [intelligence] a community that just didn’t want to talk about it, that wanted to stay focused on other things, “Pompeo said later in the interview.
In April 2020, a month before the Livermore report, the intelligence community issued a rare statement stating that while it continued to investigate the origin of the virus, it “agreed with the broad scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus did not is man-made or genetically modified. ”
Beginning in the spring of 2020, two small groups of Trump administration officials conducted parallel investigations into the origins of the virus: one in the State Department and one in the National Security Council’s directorate responsible for biosecurity.
Officials involved in these reviews now say their efforts to investigate the validity of the leak theory are facing repulsion from the intelligence community.
“We asked a lot of sharp questions,” said a former Trump official, who said their efforts were “rejected.”
Officials involved in the twins’ efforts insist they were not biased towards one result or the other.
“We didn’t wear tinfoil hats and we jumped up and down and said, ‘This must be a laboratory leak!’ “, Said Anthony Ruggiero, senior director of the NSC for biosecurity under Trump. “We said, ‘What about these things here?’ “
Republican lawmakers investigating the issue, including seeking more information about the Livermore report, also insist they are interested in the truth, not the preconceived conclusion.
“If that led us to a bat, then fine! I personally think it’s more likely a laboratory accident,” Griffith said.
“I don’t think any agency still has a good enough picture to tell the story. It’s our job: Put all these pieces together, and then I think Americans get a pretty good idea of what’s going on.”
CNN’s Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.