Rep. Madison Cawthorn baselessly accuses Fauci of 'operating as a pawn of the Chinese Communist Party' and promises to 'prosecute this guy' if GOP wins in 2022
Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina went on a podcast Wednesday to accuse Dr. Anthony Fauci of being "a pawn" of the Chinese government and promised to "prosecute" him should the GOP retake the House majority in 2022.
The 25-year-old congressman was spring-boarding off of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's call from earlier this week to refer Fauci to the Department of Justice after their heated exchange on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Paul and Cawthorn have been pushing a conspiracy theory that a possible virus leak from a Wuhan lab was nefarious not accidental, tying it to Fauci and the US government's gain-of-function research into transmissible diseases and thus making the nation's leading infectious disease expert responsible for the entire COVID-19 pandemic.
"Because Dr. Fauci knows that he's been operating as a pawn of the Chinese Communist Party," Cawthorn said, without evidence. "He's been funding, through the NIH [National Institutes of Health] - with our tax dollars - what I consider militaristic research on how to make an animal virus more transmissible to humans."
Cawthorn's comments came on "Just the Truth," a video podcast hosted by former President Donald Trump's lawyer Jenna Ellis, who, along with Rudy Giuliani, pushed Trump's lies about the 2020 election being stolen from him.
As Insider's Matthias Schwartz reported in June, the US government tests viruses and mutates them in order to get a jump on potentially lethal infectious diseases in a process known as gain-of-function research.
Following concerns over safety protocols, it was banned for three years before the NIH reinstated it in 2017.
Cawthorn attempted to support his claim by analyzing Fauci's body language during his dustup with Paul.
"And then when Rand Paul started pressing him further, and said there will be consequences for those responsible, I'm not sure if you noticed in that clip, but you start to see his hands start to shake uncontrollably," Cawthorn said. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, well that's uncontrollable rage.' No, that's fear."
After previous heated encounters during congressional hearings, animus between Fauci and Paul boiled over on Tuesday.
"Senator Paul, you do not know what you're talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially," Fauci said. "You do not know what you're talking about."
"I totally resent the lie you are now propagating, senator," Fauci told Paul later on. "Those viruses are molecularly impossible to result in SARS-CoV-2."
"You are implying what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals," he added. "If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you."
Cawthorn said he supports Paul in referring Fauci's testimony to the Department of Justice to investigate whether he lied to Congress about his role in gain-of-function research, but acknowledged that Biden appointees may not take up the case.
Cawthorn also said he would take matters into his own hands if the GOP takes back the House majority after the 2022 midterm elections.
"What's gonna come of it, I don't know," he said. "But I'll tell you, when we take the majority back in 2022, I'll make sure that consequences are doled out."
Congress has subpoena power and can impeach certain public officials, but they cannot bring charges or actually prosecute someone in a court of law.
"We want to prosecute this guy to the full ability of the law," Cawthorn said.