Sens Hawley, Braun Demand Biden Admin Turn Over More COVID Origins Info After Evasive Response


Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Mark Braun (R-Ind.) are demanding that President Joe Biden’s administration provide more details about the origins of COVID-19 after releasing a 10-page report describing potential links between the origins of the virus and work at a Chinese virology laboratory in 2019.

In March, Congress passed, and Biden signed a law known as the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023 that required the Biden administration to release “any and all information” relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in Wuhan, China, and the origin of COVID-19. The law set a June 18 deadline to declassify and “make available to the public as much information as possible.”

Hawley and Braun sent a reminder letter to Biden on June 14, but his administration still missed the June 18 deadline to declassify and publicly release the COVID-19 origins documents. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) instead published a 10-page document (pdf) five days late on the evening of June 23.

The 10-page document included a one-page coversheet, a one-page table of contents, and a three-page appendix of terms used throughout the report. The five remaining pages of the report stated that the WIV worked “with several viruses, including coronaviruses, but no known viruses that could plausibly be a progenitor of SARS-CoV-2.”

The report also described how several WIV researchers fell ill in the fall of 2019 and said these researchers possessed some symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and some symptoms considered “not consistent” with COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 Origin Act calls for a full declassification, not Cliffs Notes to cover for [Dr. Anthony Fauci] and protect China,” Braun wrote in a Monday press statement.

“The report released today by the DNI is totally insufficient. The bill Senator Hawley and I passed was to ‘declassify *any and all* information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of COVID-19’ including several specific requests related to researchers’ names and their activities at the Wuhan lab. Our bill was passed unanimously by a Democrat Senate and a Republican House and signed by President Biden.

“This 9 page DNI report is 5 pages of titles and dictionary definitions, with only 4 pages of actual information, most of which is vague or already reported. The report contains no actual documents. The American people deserve the facts, not more half truths and politics,” Braun added.

‘Failed to Comply’

Braun and Hawley reiterated their disappointment in a letter to Avril Haines, who is Biden’s director of national intelligence.

“[The COVID-19 Origins Act] required the Director of National Intelligence to ‘declassify any and all information’ relating to links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of COVID-19,” the senators wrote in a letter they first shared with Fox News.

“You failed to comply with both requirements. The deadline was June 18, 2023. Well past the statutory deadline, your office published a declassified report after business hours on June 23.”

Braun and Hawley concluded that ODNI “obviously” has more information about the origins of COVID-19 and the WIV than the five-page summary would suggest. They also accused the Biden administration of showing deference toward China.

“You—and the rest of the Administration—appear to be refusing to provide information about China’s role in and responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic in order to avoid upsetting Beijing,” they wrote.

“We invite you to try again,” the Senators added. “Within 7 business days, provide to Congress documentation that fully complies with the letter of the law to disclose ‘any and all information’ related to the origins of COVID-19 and a lab leak with minimal redactions.”

NTD News reached out to ODNI and the Biden White House for comment about Braun and Hawley’s letter, but neither office responded by the time this article was published.

Growing GOP Backlash to ODNI Report

House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and House Coronavirus Subcommittee Chair Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) called the June 23 ODNI report “a promising step toward full transparency.”

Following the release of the report, Turner and Wenstrup also concluded that “the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army have some serious explaining to do” regarding the research that had occurred at the WIV.

Other Republicans were less impressed by the ODNI’s efforts.

“This Friday night ‘news’ dump of a mere 10-page summary is a slap in the face of Americans who deserve full transparency about what information the government possesses regarding the origins of COVID-19,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the ODNI should have released details on the WIV researchers who fell ill in the Autumn of 2019. In fact, the COVID-19 Origin Act asks for the names of WIV researchers who fell ill in 2019, their symptoms, and their specific involvement in coronavirus-related work at the WIV.

“This DNI release does none of that and, in many ways, obscures more than it illuminates,” Gallagher said.