House Dems signal opposition to declassifying info on COVID-19 origins

A top House Democrat signaled Wednesday that his party will not support a bill to declassify information related to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, after the Department of Energy (DOE) and FBI Director Christopher Wray said this week the virus “most likely” arose from a lab leak in China. During a press conference at the House Democrats’ retreat in Baltimore, Maryland, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said “declassification conversations are best left to the executive.” That was his reply when asked if Democrats would support a Senate bill, introduced by Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Mike Braun, R-Ind., that would require the Biden administration to declassify all intelligence related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and possible links to the origins of the COVID-19 virus. A similar bill passed the Senate unanimously in 2021, raising the likelihood that the House could consider the Hawley-Braun measure in coming months. “We believe in letting committees of jurisdiction guide the discussions ahead, working with the administration and asking the administration tough questions,” Aguilar said. US ‘CONFIDENT’ CHINA CONSIDERING PROVIDING LETHAL EQUIPMENT TO RUSSIA, CIA DIRECTOR SAYS  FBI DIRECTOR SAYS COVID PANDEMIC ‘MOST LIKELY’ ORIGINATED FROM CHINESE LAB “And when we can do that in a way that can be shared with the American public we will, but declassification conversations are best left to the executive,” he continued. Aguilar said he’d like to hear the opinion of House Intel Committee ranking member Jim Himes, D-Conn., and noted that “there have been some executive agencies that have taken some different viewpoints.” “The DNI in the degree of confidence they have in the origination of the coronavirus has been a little different than what the FBI director expressed,” he stated, referring to the Director of National Intelligence. “So there is not a single entity, there is a little bit of disagreement within the executive. But from congressional standpoint, putting our House hats on, you know, we believe in asking tough questions,” speaking of relevant committee hearings and discussions on the subject. ANOTHER US AGENCY ASSESSES COVID-19 ORIGIN LIKELY A CHINESE ‘LAB LEAK’: REPORT In an interview with Fox News aired on Tuesday, Director Wray said “the FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan.” “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab,” he said. On Sunday, the Energy Department, which was previously undecided on the origin of the pandemic, joined the FBI in saying the coronavirus likely spread due to a mishap at a Chinese laboratory, according to a Wall Street Journal report that cited a classified intelligence report recently provided to the White House and some members of Congress from DOE. The development was noted in an update to a 2021 document by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’s office, according to the WSJ report. The National Intelligence Council and four other agencies assess at “low confidence” that the COVID-19 pandemic originated due to natural transmission from an infected animal, while the CIA and another unnamed agency are undecided. Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report. 
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