Dr. Fauci Emerges As An Unlikely Witness For Trump In The “China Flu” Case

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the statement of Dr. Anthony Fauci and others that the origin of Covid-19 could well have been the virology lab in Wuhan, China. The increasing recognition of that theory could make a recent lawsuit against former President Donald Trump more of an opportunity than a liability. Indeed, Trump’s counsel may secretly want the flawed complaint by the Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition to survive standing and other threshold challenges in order to secure a ruling on the use of terms like the “China flu.”

Here is the column:

Throughout his career, Donald Trump often has been more fortunate in the political adversaries he makes than in the allies he keeps. This has never been more clear than with recent lawsuits that could not be better timed or crafted to vindicate him.

In the latest case, the Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition has sued the former president for using such terms as the “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan flu.” The lawsuit was filed just before National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci admitted that the COVID-19 virus may well have been released by a virology lab in Wuhan, China. The case is unlikely to result in any liability for Trump — but it could result in a surprising victory for him.

Time and again, Trump’s critics have allowed their rage to overwhelm their reason. In federal court, Democrats have sought to score political points with filings that could undermine their long-standing political narratives. For example, Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) have sued Trump for inciting an insurrection. Their cases could force a court to rule on whether Trump can be held legally responsible for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and whether his words were protected speech under the First Amendment. If the lawsuits fail, as is likely, Trump could cite the dismissals as evidence that his second impeachment was a political charade detached from any legal foundation.

The Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition seeks $22.9 million, or $1 for every Asian American and Pacific Islander living in the United States. It is far from clear that the coalition can claim all Asian Americans were injured — or claim the right to speak for all of them on the issue. There also are problems with establishing an injury directly related to Trump’s rhetoric, or with seeking damages on the basis of a type of “group libel” — an extremely difficult foundation for any lawsuit.

“Chinese virus” has been widely used by various experts and commentators, including in scientific journals. Indeed, two Chinese experts referred to this as the “Wuhan virus” until they were pressured to retract their column. It was the term used by many scientists in the early stages of the pandemic, and even by some liberals; HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher defended the use of the term as consistent with past scientific practices.

While it is reviled by many as racially insensitive and inflammatory, the term’s use is heavily imbued with political meaning. The Supreme Court has long protected opinion under free speech rulings. In cases like New York Times v. Sullivan, the court sought to create “breathing space” by articulating a standard that now applies to both public officials and public figures.

Moreover, as with the Swalwell lawsuit, the Chinese American coalition makes an argument directly rejected by the Supreme Court in claiming emotional distress from political rhetoric or protests. In Snyder v. Phelps, the court ruled 8-1 in favor of the odious Westboro Baptist Church members who protested at military funerals. Chief Justice John Roberts held that “As a nation we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.” Thus, even offensive terms like “Kung flu” are, presumptively, protected forms of speech.

In many ways, Democrats will be fortunate if the coalition’s suit is dismissed on standing or injury grounds. Conversely, Trump should want this case to go forward to a full judgment and appeal. The biggest danger is that the lawsuit could force a ruling on underlying origins of the flu. The primary defense to defamation remains truth. Trump can argue that terms like “China virus” and “Wuhan virus” refer to the widely accepted origin of the outbreak. The use of such labels is common in science and politics; people still refer to the “London variant” and “South Africa variant” of COVID-19. Other viruses and diseases also have been associated with where they originated, like Zika or Ebola. While the “Spanish flu” may not have started in Spain, it is still the common label for that epidemic.

This lawsuit shows the impeccable timing of Trump critics in self-defeating litigation. After the filing, Dr. Fauci seemed to flip on the lab-release theory. During the Trump administration, Fauci was lionized by the media for dismissing the lab theory; in a May 2020 interview, he told National Geographic: “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.”

The media and Democratic leaders went into full attack mode. The New York Times denounced figures like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark,) for raising the “Fringe Theory of Coronavirus Origins,” while the Washington Post called it a “conspiracy theory that was already debunked” — or, as stated in The Daily Beast, a wingnut “conspiracy theory.” Post columnist Jennifer Rubin said anyone giving credence to the lab-origin theory was voicing the “GOP’s cultist mentality,” and denounced Cotton as being “an irrational conspiracy monger or he has contempt for voters (i.e. feeds claptrap to the people he considers rubes).”

Now, apparently, Fauci is “feeding claptrap” to “rubes,” too.

Asked if the virus’ origin presumptively was forged in nature, he said: “No, actually. I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.”

Around the time of Fauci’s reversal, news reports surfaced of Chinese scientists at the Wuhan lab suffering COVID-like symptoms months before the outbreak, and even the possibility of hospitalizations of lab staff. Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield has said publicly that he believes the virus escaped from the Chinese lab. Retired New York Times science editor Nicholas Wade has chastised his former colleagues for ignoring the obvious evidence supporting a lab theory as well as Chinese efforts to arrest scientists and destroy evidence that could establish the origin.

With this record, Trump could not ask for a more timely or flawed lawsuit. Indeed, he might call Fauci as his first witness in a trial virtually tailor-made for Trump.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates online @JonathanTurley.  


56 thoughts on “Dr. Fauci Emerges As An Unlikely Witness For Trump In The “China Flu” Case”

  1. The elephant in the room regarding Fauci is possible unwitting funding of Chinese bio-weapon development. Gain of function research entails increasing lethality and ease of contagion. These 2 qualities are exactly what a weapon developer would look for to increase a bio-weapon’s efficiency. For Fauci to think the Chinese government would not be keenly interested in these developments in labs under their control is the height of naivety. If this possibility becomes a proven reality (and current facts make such a conclusion more likely), Fauci will go down as one of the scientific world’s great dupes.

    1. The depth and extent of devotion of the alt-right disciples never ceases to amaze me. Everyone on earth who doesn’t support Trump is a liar and has malign motives. Now you are claiming to know what Dr. Fauci thinks–that, somehow, he was supposed to automatically assume that if the first reported cases of COVID came from China, then, per se, COVID was developed and released as a bio weapon, and that he must be naive. Dr. Fauci reported what the consensus of scientists believed at the time. There were a large number of positive cases that came from the wet market. There were also bats sold at the wet market and they are known to carry COVID. At the present time, the source is not known, and may still never be known with certainty. Even if COVID can be proven to have come from the lab, this does not prove that it was a bio-weapon or anything other than use of sloppy technique, something which the WHO has criticized this lab for in the past.

      “Current facts” make no “conclusions” likely, and if your alt-right media sources say otherwise, they are lying to you. It has been known since 2020 that there were a handful of lab people who were sick with a respiratory disease for which they received hospital treatment. I’ve seen no proof that these infections were with COVID. Yet, if Hannity tells you otherwise, you’ll believe it. YOU are one of the great dupes.

      1. The new cover story on National Review:

        “The Fall of Saint Anthony Fauci”

        Excellent. It’s about time. The bureaucracy will save him, of course, but it’s about time Fauci faces the firing squad instead of the GD sycophants in media and Hollystupid.

  2. Fauci could have gone before the American people and said that the virus could have come from nature or a the lab. He openly emphasized the nature probability and never mentioned the Wuhan lab. He could have pushed China to open the lab and it’s research process but he didn’t. Perhaps it was the $600,000 he helped acquire for the lab that held him back. How much is $600,000 American dollars worth in China. The virus has not been found in bats or any other species.

  3. “There’s two issues. If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats, and what’s out there now it’s very, very strongly leaning toward this [virus] could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated—the way the mutations have naturally evolved. A number of very qualified evolutionary biologists have said that everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that it evolved in nature and then jumped species,” Fauci said.

    1. One problem, they haven’t been able to find any bats that are carrying the virus. They also have not found any species that are carrying the Virus. When Fauci made his statement he said that bats were the highest probability but no bats have been found with the virus. There are two sources for the natural theory. One source is Fauci and the other is China.

  4. You have become pathetic, Turley. You never miss an opportunity to carry out your Fox News marching orders to defend Trump and attack Democrats, as today’s piece of slop proves. It is beneath your station as a “law professor” to twist the facts, especially when it is done for political reasons and to support a thoroughly unethical person like Trump.

    First of all, Trump is a constant, habitual liar. Everyone knows it. He has always been a liar and cheater, and this is why reasonable people don’t believe a word he says. He only blamed China for the virus when it occurred to him that his botching of the pandemic and lying to the American people about the danger was hurting him politically. Most important of all, TRUMP HAD NO EVIDENCE that COVID came from the lab when he began his unprofessional and immature name-calling, like calling COVID the “Kung Flu”, the “Wuhan Virus” and “China Virus”. And, he didn’t start with his tirade against China right away because he wanted to curry favor with the Chinese because he wanted a trade deal. It was only after it was clear that it wasn’t going to happen that he LIED and started blaming China, and no later-acquired quantum of evidence will change the simple fact that Trump lied AT THE TIME. Even if it turns out that the source was the lab and that some error or mistake caused COVID to escape from the lab, Trump is STILL A LIAR, because he had no evidence to support his baseless accusations at the time he made them. So, you are wrong, Turley. Trump can never prove that he didn’t lie and slander China in 2020. Truth is a defense to defamation.There is no “victory” for Trump here, but his pathetic disciples are incapable of understanding the facts.

    In early 2020, Dr. Fauci, reporting on available EVIDENCE, indicated that the source was likely to be animal-to-human transmission. That was true at the time, and now he supports further investigation into the source. In fact, the source could still be the wet market. The source remains unknown, Turley, and just because further investigation is being done, this does not mean Trump is exonerated. They attack Fauci because Trump wants them to, because Fauci made Trump look like the fool he is. It is a fundamental principle of science to evaluate evidence as it becomes available, to make evidence-based decisions and recommendations and to change prior decisions and recommendations when new evidence is acquired. This is called being responsible, something Trump knows nothing about.

    Trump DID incite a riot by going on the offensive after the American people shut him out. At taxpayer expense, he flew around the country, holding “Stop the Steal” rallies, exhorting his disciples to “fight like hell or you’re not going to have a country any more”. Lying to the faithful, he said he would join them on the march to the Capitol, and he promised them that “it’s going to be wild”. Desperate after losing multiple recounts and court filings because he DID lose but cannot admit this truth, he actually thought the disciples could stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. While it caused a delay, in the end, It didn’t work, but he still won’t shut up or go away. No other POTUS has ever behaved like this in American history. His predecessors honor the will of the American people, something Trump doesn’t care one iota about. Driven by his massive ego, it still doesn’t occur to him that the reason Presidents don’t act like this is because a POTUS is there to carry out the will of the American people. He doesn’t care that the majority of Americans never did and never will support him because it’s all about the power, glory, adulation and ego. Trump is mentally ill, but what about his enablers, of which I count you, Turley? You use your credentials to support this person, and you DO know better.

    1. Additional fallout resulting from Trump’s lying: there has been a serious uptick in attacks against Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. AAPI businesses suffered because of resentment and prejudice stoked by Trump’s lie about the source of the virus. Even if it is ultimately traced to the lab, there is still no evidence that the release was intentional, that it was germ warfare or anything else other than an accident. We still don’t know the source, and yet, Turley takes a victory lap for Trump. That is disgusting.

      1. Natacha, you are correct. There has been a serious uptick in violence against Asians. Mostly by Black Trump lovers.

      2. Natacha, Fauci could have easily said that the virus could have come from either the lab or from nature but he didn’t Fauci said it most likely came from nature and your friends in the Chinese Communist China said the same thing. Politics makes strange bedfellows. To borrow your last sentence. That is disgusting.

        1. Fauci said it most likely came from nature, based on the evidence and a consensus of the scientific community at the time. That may still be true, because no one knows. Trump lied because he couldn’t bully China into a trade deal he wanted. He had NO facts or evidence.

          1. Natacha, the fact remains that after a year of research no one has found the virus in any specious on planet earth. According to your premise the virus may be eventually found in the far off land of OZ so all the evidence is not in and we can not come to any conclusion. Your argument keeps shrinking and shrinking soon to disappear into a cranial black hole.

          2. And Biden is bullying China by keeping the Trump tarriffs in place. It’s sounding more and more like Natacha is coming to the defense of China. She becomes curioser curioser. Little hints add up.

            1. “It’s sounding more and more like Natacha is coming to the defense of China.”

              Maybe she is based in China. There is something about an aged Red Guard there.

      1. Trump’s never been right, and cannot be “right” about the origins of the virus because he had no facts to back him up and attacked China because he couldn’t bully it to do his will, so he enacted the tariffs. The retaliatory tariffs set off the decline in the economy even before the pandemic.

        1. Natacha, they can’t find the virus in bats or any other animal. It would seem like a little process of elimination would have an influence on your conclusions. Nothing like the blindness of your dedication to your religion. Who would have ever known that Natacha was so religious but all the earmarks are there.

        2. Natacha, and Biden has kept the tariffs in place. We are waiting for your diatribe about what a liar Biden is. We will have to wait a long time because you won’t find it in your morning Democratic talking points.

        3. Trump was right about it more than likely coming from a lab leak in Wuhan.

          Trump was right about shutting down travel coming from China in late January.

          Trump was right about UV light therapy.

          Trump was right about HCQ.

          Trump was right about what the covid fatality rate would end up being.

          Fauci was way off and wrong about almost everything.

      2. “Trump was right again. Deal with it.”

        True, with emphasis on the ‘again’. And they choke on the very thought of it.

  5. And you know what Fauci will then hang his duplicitous hat on? The phrase ” find out to the best of our ability what happened.” To the best of our ability…. and he knows what those assets and abilities are now. If it were in the market that would be considered inside trading. And he is betting his marbles and reputation (what’s left of it) on those words, “best of our ability.” He knows what China has done to that “ability”. Further, as is constantly referred to in media, Trump never blamed the Chinese people themselves. It would be ludicrous to try to prove in court. There must always be room for frivolous lawsuits but not for freedom of speech. LOL BTW: the Brazilian strain is nasty too.

  6. Dr. Fauci was NEVER AN UNLIKELY WITNESS. Do a deep dive about his involvement into the debate as a chair member of the RCMP (sp?) committee at NIH when the moratorium (ban) on gain of function was being discussed. It was the cavalier manner in which Dr. Fauci argued AGAINST THE MAJORITY OPINION of that board to CONTINUE VERY CONTROVERSIAL AND DANGEROUS gain of function “studies” by offshoring it to China AND FUNDING IT WITH US TAX DOLLARS through a cut out, ecoHealth Alliance. (2013-2019)

    DR. FAUCI HAS ALWAYS BE AN OBVIOUS AND LIKELY WITNESS to anyone who has researched his role in recommending and then acting to keep alive what most scientists’ within the community have serious concerns and some even rejected the dubious notion that gain of function was worth the risk.

  7. Fauci is a screw up. He’s a political bureaucrat. He reminds me of someone that gets promoted just to get rid of them. If you watch Barney Miller, he reminds of Inspector Luger.

    1. Olly: “His malpractice is surpassed only by the technocrats pumping global warming/cooling/climate change doomsday scenarios.”
      And now ‘structural racism’. I’ve stopped following it. Has structural racism been caused by global warming yet? They will get around to it. Or perhaps it will be that global warming is racist.

      Every radical, poorly conceived, misshapen idea that can cause fear and hostility is being poured into the flask and nobody seems to know what toxic concoction many finally be poured from it.

  8. The same people who told us that the China Virus could not possibly have escaped from a lab in China have also been telling us that voter fraud could not have occurred during the last election.

        1. I’ll believe you when you quote him saying those two things.

          Make sure that you don’t confuse “voter fraud could not have occurred during the last election” (Young’s claim) with “there was no widespread voter fraud in the last election, sufficient to affect who was elected.” Any honest person should be able to say that some voter fraud occurred. People have been charged with it, like the Trump supporter in PA –

      1. Why is it that most often a chowderhead is linked firmly to an anonymous handle?

  9. With all these theories floating around Wash DC about the China virus & Trump lawsuits, its time to add 1 more.

    Check out Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano’s youtube JFK video. It didn’t get censored. But did get some static. How the mob rigged a presidential election.

  10. This is going to haunt the other side. They keep handing Trump a bull horn when they should want him to fade. They are trying to turn him into the Bogey Man, but it looks like they keep having evidence showing up that he was right. Not only does this vindicate him, but makes him look like they were really out to get him as he said. Those closely held districts could swing back if for no other reason the fix was in on hurting him. They just cannot let him go.

      1. Nah,

        The longer this runs the greater the chance that this and other things he has been saying come to light and so far, he has been shown to be correct as it develops. It will be funny to see how the other side reacts if this things flip on them. With the information starting to show how he did nothing wrong with the first impeachment and now the COVID naming, he has a chance to look better as time goes on.

  11. “Dr. Fauci seemed to flip on the lab-release theory. During the Trump administration, Fauci was lionized by the media for dismissing the lab theory; in a May 2020 interview, he told National Geographic: ‘If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.’
    ” … Asked if the virus’ origin presumptively was forged in nature, he said: ‘No, actually. I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.’”

    JT links to an article in The Hill for the second Fauci quote. But The Hill article does not contain that quote. It’s a quote from May 11, in response to a question from PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders at the “United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking” event.

    More importantly, it’s not a “flip.”

    To say that one isn’t convinced does not contradict that “[the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.” “Strongly indicates” does not mean “certain,” and like any good scientist, Fauci keeps an open mind. Most signifantly, it’s entirely possible that it evolved naturally but was also first transmitted at the Wuhan Lab. In and of itself, the latter does not imply man-made / “artificially or deliberately manipulated.”

    1. The reference was to jurisdictional origin, not an exercise of liberal license to demean character. The claims of diversitist motive and intent have been a cover-up of the investigation and forward-looking risk posed by this gateway.

    2. The problem is the left/democrats/progressives/big tech DON’T have an open mind as illustrated by the smears against those who stated that the lab theory that has as much credence as any other credible theory.

      The left/democrats/progressives/big tech actually lied about the lab theory, stating it categorically wrong and using their propagandists in the media and big tech to support their lie.

      They can try to dance the jig and add more lies to their previous ones, but they smeared and impugned the character of people, and in the end it is more likely those people (Cotton, Trump, Pmpeo, etc) were right and the left/democrats/progressives/big tech were absolutely wrong and manipulating the information in their never ending quest for power.

      1. You make a lot of claims. But you don’t quote even one of these so-called lies or even name whoever you’re talking about. Just a lot of handwaving.

  12. Dr Fauci-st’s best bet is work out a plea deal right now.

    The public world-wide are just now find out what Fauci, Bill Gates, Obama, etc., have gone to their families.

    1. Fauci hasn’t committed any crimes, so it’s strange that you suggest a plea deal.

        1. Maybe he has, just like maybe you have. But he hasn’t been indicted for any crimes, and no legal agency has implicated him in any crimes as far as I can tell.

          If Oky can’t even be bothered to specify the crime, he shouldn’t be taken seriously.

  13. It’s not President Trump they fear it’s the American public they fear if they’re exposed. Remember Jonathan Gruber “The stupidity of the American voter”?

    1. Yes, a number of “fact checkers” and gatekeepers vouched for their integrity and Americans and others around the world deferred to their privilege and authority and took a knee. The value of labor and environmental arbitrage may no longer be sufficient to overlook and compensate for their callous disregard for the facts and forward-looking risk through a violation of trust, not limited to the CCP, government, JournoLists, and global industries.

    1. Ironically, from behind the mask placebo effect. Biden may want to consider emitting another multi-trillion dollars in redistributive change to keep the population mellow and manageable. Perhaps stage another act allegedly motivated by [rabid] diversity to socially justify a democratic/dictatorial regime that will force a consensus and people to take a knee.

  14. THE DEM’s and their Radical and Left Wing Groups have severe Trump syndrome, they live in fear of Trump and his possible return, they have nightmares and they are drive by irrational and crazy ideas and beliefs. Trump will win this case hands down and should seek reimbursement of legal fees fos any and all such crazy groundless suits.

    1. I’m looking forward to the progress of cases against Trump that long precede these. Such as the defamation suits brought by Summer Zervos and E. Jean Carroll, both related to allegations of sexual assault (in Zervos’ case) and rape (in Carroll’s case).

      If the deal for Amazon to buy MGM moves forward, that may benefit Zervos. MGM owns the rights to The Apprentice, including all of the unaired footage, some of which Zervos claims are relevant to her suit. “Apprentice” producer Bill Pruitt had said that there were tapes containing “far worse” comments from Trump than his Accesss Hollywood about grabbing women’s vaginas and kissing without consent.

      1. It would be interesting to know what Herr Pruitt considers “far worse”, given what passes for normal conversation on network television.

      2. “I’m looking forward to the progress of cases against Trump that long precede these. “

        Schadenfreude, is this guy’s entire life.

Comments are closed.