The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) may have made duplicate payments totaling in the tens of millions to the Wuhan, China, lab suspected of leaking the COVID-19 virus, according to CBS News.
"What I've found so far is evidence that points to double billing, potential theft of government funds," said Diane Cutler, a former federal investigator hired by Republican Sen. Roger Marshall (R., Kan.) to look at the spending records. "It is concerning, especially since it involves dangerous pathogens and risky research."
Cutler looked at more than 50,000 documents pertaining to government grants that went to high-risk research in China before the pandemic. The investigator discovered duplicate payments for equipment, travel, and salaries, and Marshall turned the findings over to USAID, which launched a probe.
The report comes as Anthony Fauci comes under heightened scrutiny over his conduct as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a subagency of the NIH that funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Recent reports show Fauci commissioned and reviewed a paper in February 2020 to dispel the so-called lab leak theory. Fauci referred to the paper, titled "The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2," during a White House press conference on April 17, 2020, during which he acted unfamiliar with the authors.
Yet Fauci held a phone call with the paper's four authors in February 2020 to discuss evidence that surfaced suggesting China's Wuhan Institute of Virology as the virus’s origin. He then reviewed the paper, which claimed COVID likely emerged from an animal-to-human infection, the New York Post reported.
Both the Energy Department and FBI have publicly concluded the coronavirus likely originated from a lab in China.
Federal investigators in January called out egregious errors made in the research at the Wuhan lab that Fauci and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded through the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance.
In recent days, Fauci lashed out at Elon Musk for calling for his prosecution after the Twitter CEO tweeted that his pronouns were "Prosecute/Fauci."
"There's no response to that craziness," Fauci said on Saturday. "I wish I could figure out what the heck they're talking about. I think they're just going off the deep end."