EXCLUSIVE: GOP Sens. Josh Hawley and Mike Braun have reintroduced a bill that would require the Biden administration to declassify all intelligence related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and possible links to the origins of the COVID-19 virus, in light of the weekend report that the Department of Energy (DOE) that concluded the coronavirus pandemic likely stemmed from a lab leak.
A similar version of the senators’ bill, the 'COVID-19 Origin Act of 2021,' passed the Senate unanimously in May 2021.
'For nearly three years, anyone asking whether COVID-19 originated as a lab leak outbreak was silenced and branded as a conspiracy theorist,' Hawley, R-Mo., told Fox News Digital. 'Now these prudent skeptics stand vindicated. The Biden administration must immediately declassify all intelligence reports pertaining to the origins of COVID-19 coronavirus and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The American people deserve to know the truth.'
The bill specifically requires declassification of information related to activities performed by the Wuhan Institute of Virology with or on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army, coronavirus research or other related activities performed at the Wuhan lab prior to the outbreak of COVID–19, and all information related to researchers at the Wuhan lab who fell ill in autumn 2019, including dates of illness, their role at the lab and other factors.
The bill requires the Director of National Intelligence's Office to produce a report on this declassified material, only making redactions to protect sources and methods – the intelligence community's most sensitive information.
'The Biden administration has called the lab leak theory a conspiracy theory from the beginning and has only started to publicly admit they were wrong as the evidence becomes overwhelming,' Braun, R-Ind., added. 'This bill passed the Senate unanimously in 2021, and since then, the Biden administration has continued to keep information about COVID’s origins secret. The American people deserve transparency, free from government censors or media spin. It’s time to declassify everything we know about COVID’s origins and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, now.'
The Wall Street Journal first reported on Sunday that according to a classified intelligence report provided to the White House, the Energy Department has concluded that COVID-19 'most likely arose from a laboratory leak.'
People who read the classified report told the Journal that the DOE ranked its conclusion at 'low confidence,' while the FBI ranked its same conclusion in 2021 that the pandemic was the result of an accidental lab leak at 'moderate confidence.'
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday that he couldn't 'confirm or deny' the Wall Street Journal's reporting on the DOE's recent conclusion that the COVID-19 pandemic likely originated from an accidental lab leak in China, and he added that there is 'no definitive answer.'
Similar calls to declassify the DOE report have been made in the Republican-controlled House.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said Monday, 'This administration must declassify all the relevant intelligence – protecting for sources and methods – surrounding the pandemic’s origins, and provide information as to who was advising the members of the intelligence community who have dismissed or downplayed the concept of a lab leak.'
'We must also take concrete steps to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their lack of transparency surrounding COVID-19,' he said.