Reporter Confronts State Dept. Spokesman Matt Miller for Stonewalling on USAID’s Funding of Gain-of-Function Research on COVID

Breaking News Politics USA World

State Department Spokesman Matt Miller found himself in hot water during a press briefing when confronted by reporter Sam Husseini about the funding provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to China for gain-of-function research on coronaviruses.

Husseini asked Miller to clarify how much funding USAID had sent to work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and its collaborator Ralph Baric at the University of North Carolina.

“How much money went from USAID to this to the work at Wuhan and to their collaborator Ralph Barrick at the University of North Carolina to create, to collect and make coronaviruses that are weaponized, that are more deadly,” asked Husseini.

Miller was elusive in his response, stating, “First of all reject the implicit accusation in that question. And I do not have at my fingertips the particular details.”

Husseini persisted, asking whether Miller could confirm that no USAID funds were channeled to the Wuhan Institute. Miller deflected once again, choosing to call on another reporter rather than answer Husseini’s question directly.

“Are you saying for certain that no USAID money went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology?” asked Husseini.

“I am happy to take questions from those in this audience. I’m happy to answer them. I appreciate that they treat every person in this room, including myself, respectfully I called on you. I’m now calling on someone else,” said Miller while avoiding to answer the question.

“Respectfully, please tell me, what are you denying? What is your denial? It’s a non-denial denial,” said Husseini.


Husseini’s exchange with Miller comes on the heels of a recent report by The BMJ, which announced that funding for such viral collection work was recently cut off by USAID.

From the BMJ:

Two years after launching what officials hailed as a five year flagship project for hunting viruses among wildlife to prevent human pandemics, the US Agency for International Development is shuttering the enterprise. David Willman reports

A flagship project for the controversial practice of hunting viruses among wildlife in South East Asia, Africa, and Latin America to prevent human outbreaks and pandemics is being quietly dropped by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) after private and bipartisan criticism over the safety of such research, The BMJ has found.

For more than a decade the US government has been funding international projects engaged in identifying exotic wildlife viruses that might someday infect humans. Although critics have raised concerns over the potentially catastrophic risks of such virus hunting activities,1 hundreds of millions of dollars in unabated funding have symbolised a commitment to the effort.

The shuttering of the project, as described in a new congressional budget document and during interviews with scientists and federal policy makers, marks an abrupt retreat by the US government from wildlife virus hunting, an activity that has also been funded by the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health. The turnabout follows early warnings raised by sceptics—including officials in the Biden White House—that the $125m (£99m; €115m) “DEEP VZN” programme could inadvertently ignite a pandemic. The misgivings continue to resonate, as the cause of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the world’s deadliest such event in a century, remains unproved.

Husseini later tweeted, “Today’s ‘non-denial denial’ from Miller marks the fourth time the State Dept has stonewalled on this issue.”

Back in February, then-State Department Spokesman Ned Price was similarly evasive when questioned about transparency and USAID’s response to Freedom of Information Act requests regarding their funding of viral research.

“In March, I tried to ask USAID representative as they announced their budget at the State Dept, but Ned Price jumped in, she walked off and Price again tried to stonewall.”

An investigation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee into the origin of the Covid-19 outbreak has concluded that the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology sometime just before September 12, 2019. 

The year-plus inquiry, lead by Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, issued a third and final report on Monday. The committee compiled a “preponderance” of evidence that confirms the lab as the source of the outbreak and cites a persistent effort by the involved parties to “destroy evidence” in an attempt to cover up the their involvement in creating the virus.

It is the opinion of Committee Minority Staff, based on the preponderance of available information; the documented efforts to obfuscate, hide, and destroy evidence; and the lack of physical evidence to the contrary; that SARS-CoV-2 was accidentally released from a Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory sometime prior to September 12, 2019.”

“We now believe it’s time to completely dismiss the wet market as the source.”

After the release of the report, McCaul called on Congress to sanction scientists at the Wuhan lab and also Chinese Communist Party officials for their role in withholding crucial information that killed over 4 million as part of the “greatest coverup of all time.”

He also asked them to subpoena Peter Daszak, the scientist who was involved in the research and development of the coronavirus in the US and China, for knowingly making false claims. Daszak ridiculously claimed the lab leak theory was xenophobic in a public letter at the beginning of the year.

Now is the time to use all of the tools the U.S. government has to continue to root out the full truth of how this virus came to be.

That includes subpoenaing Peter Daszak to appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to answer the many questions his inconsistent — and in some instances outright and knowingly inaccurate — statements have raised. It also includes Congress passing legislation to sanction scientists at the WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology] and CCP [Chinese Communist Party] officials who participated in this coverup. This was the greatest coverup of all time and has caused the deaths of more than four million people around the world, and people must be held responsible.”

The daily US News supports our president Donald J Trump