Josh Hawley wants you to know what he knows about the origin of the COVID-19 virus.
The U.S. senator from Missouri, along with Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana, introduced the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023, which would require the Biden administration to declassify intelligence on potential links between the pandemic and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Their similar bill passed the Senate unanimously in 2021 but died in the Democrat-controlled House.
The bill should have more of an impetus this year, with a Republican-controlled House and two federal agencies – the Department of Energy and the FBI – now saying a lab leak of the deadly virus is the pandemic’s most likely origin. And, in fact, Hawley’s COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023 sailed through on a unanimous vote again Wednesday evening.
Still, the Biden administration is hedging about it, dismissing the two agencies’ conclusions amid what it says is a lack of consensus among federal officials.
“Because they don’t want to own up to the truth,” Hawley said in an interview with The Heartlander on Wednesday. “Because they’ve got so much invested in censoring people. This is the administration that wanted to use COVID to monitor every American’s speech and to shut down speech they didn’t like. And let’s never forget, that included speech about this virus, about COVID and about a lab origin.
“If you said it was from a lab, you got kicked off social media. You got shunned in public. You got told you shouldn’t talk about it at work. That’s what they wanted. So, they don’t want to admit that they were wrong all along, and they don’t want to admit that they tried to use the power of government to control speech. But that’s exactly what they did.
“And that’s why we need to declassify all the information that the U.S. government has about COVID origins.”
Hawley isn’t saying what he knows, but has read the classified documents he’s seeking to have declassified.
He wants you to know what he knows.
“Exactly,” he said.
“That’s why I have been saying for over a year now: declassify this stuff. Let everybody read it. Don’t say to senators or whomever, ‘OK, you read it, but you can’t talk about it.’ Oh, for heaven’s sake, let the American people see it and let them decide.”
Whatever the secret is, it appears to be an open one now. If not, then FBI Director Christopher Wray let the cat out of the bag on Fox News Tuesday.
“The FBI has, for quite some time now, assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” Wray told Fox. “You are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.”
Meanwhile, Hawley and Braun used the Energy Department’s admission of a likely lab leak as the springboard to reintroduce their bill to declassify what the government knows about COVID’s origins.
“I think we know what happened,” Hawley says. “The FBI has now said for quite some time now that they believe that COVID originated in a lab. And in fact, Director Wray gave a television interview in which he said that it looks like this was part of a bioweapons program.
“There you go. So to me, we know what the origins are, here. But hey, let’s let the American people read the intelligence rather than taking Joe Biden’s word for it. He doesn’t know. Let the American people read what we’ve got. Don’t treat them like dunces. Quit trying to control them, which is what this administration wants to do.”
So, what if there is clear evidence, or at least a consensus, on the lab leak? What should happen, and how should it change America’s posture toward China?
Hawley is quick with a response.
“I’ll tell you what we ought to do with China is, we ought to withdraw their Most Favored Nation status. Why are we giving this country run by a Communist Party – that has sought to weaponize our trade against us, has sought to weaponize the International intellectual property system, and maybe even a virus weaponized against us – why are we giving them special benefits? That’s ruining our industry and taking our jobs and making us weaker.
“Let’s treat them like the bad actors that they are, and let’s make America strong.”
Regarding another ongoing scandal, Hawley grilled U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland over a memo by the FBI’s Richmond field office proposing the recruitment of inside sources to investigate “radical-traditionalist” Catholics for ties to the “far-right white nationalist movement.”
“Attorney general, are you cultivating sources and spies in Latin-mass parishes and other Catholic parishes around the country?” asked Hawley.
Garland insisted the Justice Department “does not do that – it does not do investigations based on religion,” adding that the memo was “appalling.”
“The FBI is not targeting Catholics,” Garland said.
Hawley persisted, asking Garland: “How many informants do you have in Catholic churches across America?” Garland said he doesn’t know, but doesn’t believe the department has any informants “aimed at Catholic churches.”
Hawley wasn’t assuaged. The Heartlander asked him what he thinks the Department of Justice considers “traditionalist” Catholics to be.
“Well, apparently a terrorist. I mean, according to the FBI, if you are a traditional Catholic, if you like the Latin mass, if you consider yourself a conservative Catholic, you’re a danger to this country. Literally, this is an FBI memo that says that the bureau ought to recruit spies in Catholic parishes – and I presume other churches all across the country.
“This is just outrageous stuff. You talk about an abuse of power. But the problem is, they’re doing this kind of stuff. This is the guy, Merrick Garland, who sent 20 or 30 SWAT agents to the home of a pro-life demonstrator to arrest him in front of his children, using ballistic shields, using long guns. And he was then acquitted, because he did nothing wrong.
“I mean, these people are out of control. Merrick Garland’s out of control. The whole bureau and DOJ seem to be rife with anti-Catholic, anti-Christian bias, and it’s got to stop.”
Could a “radical-traditionalist” Catholic simply be a conservative Catholic in the view of the Biden administration?
“I think that’s exactly what it means,” Hawley told The Heartlander.