Marco Rubio Presses FBI and National Intelligence Heads on COVID Origins

This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., pressed Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on the origins of COVID-19 during the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Worldwide Threats Hearing.

A transcript is below.

RUBIO: [There] is a lot of circumstantial evidence that adds together [to support the idea that COVID originated in a Wuhan lab]. The FBI has concluded what, on the origins of COVID?

WRAY: Mr. Vice Chairman, as the committee knows, the FBI has long assessed, going all the way back to the summer of 2021, that the origin of the pandemic was likely a lab incident in Wuhan.

RUBIO: So, Director Haynes, I know that there’s a difference of opinion among the different agencies. I think Energy and the FBI have that assessment. What is preventing the other agencies from reaching the same assessment? Is it basically the lack of a smoking gun? Will we not be able to say that we believe that the lab origin is the likeliest outcome unless somehow we can provide a smoking gun, proof that that’s what happened?

HAINES: You’re right. There’s a broad consensus in the intelligence community that the outbreak is not the result of a bioweapon or genetic engineering. What there isn’t a consensus on is whether or not it’s a lab leak, as Director Wray indicated, or natural exposure to an infected animal. Those are the two operating theories.

What would change perspectives would be additional information. And we’ve been trying to collect additional information. I think you’re absolutely right that China has not fully cooperated. And we do think that’s a key critical gap that would help us to understand what exactly happened.

RUBIO: Mr. Chairman, I would just point out that it is true that we don’t have a smoking gun. We don’t have some guy calling another guy saying, “We had a lab leak.” We also don’t have a smoking gun that it was a naturally occurring event, which is the easiest one for them to prove—have a press conference, show us the bat or the pangolin, and show us, “This is the one, and here’s the virus that came from that animal.” Because it would have not just been found in one animal, it would have been pretty widespread.

That’s the easiest thing for the Chinese to have done, and they haven’t done it. I think that’s a pretty strong reason to suspect that it’s not naturally occurring, because they’ve done it with the other pandemics.

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