LINDSEY Graham has claimed that widespread denial that Covid-19 could have come from a China lab was a tool to hurt former President Donald Trump.
The South Carolina senator alleged that scientists denying that the "lab leak" theory was a possibility were doing so to "cover their ass."
Graham specifically referred to a February 2020 statement in the respected medical journal The Lancet that claimed the virus jumped from animals and was signed by 27 scientists.
"This is the Russia dossier all over again," Graham said told Sean Hannity during an appearance on his Tuesday night show.
"This stinks to high heaven. This is lab-gate, China-gate, call it whatever you want to call it."
Graham's comments come as the lab leak theory, that Covid-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, is gaining widespread momentum.
Even Dr Anthony Fauci, who last year played down the possibility of a lab leak, admitted that he is no longer convinced that Covid-19 developed naturally.
Graham said that the statement published in the Lancet, which condemned "theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin," was designed to discredit people like Trump.
"The media took it and ran, and it changed the course of the election," Graham said.
"Why? Because number one, the scientists are tied to this lab. They were covering their ass.
"They put out a letter not based on science, but a political documents trying to destroy the credibility of people who suggested it came out of a lab."
The lab leak theory also reemerged as a serious possibility after it was revealed that three staffers at the Wuhan lab fell ill with Covid-like symptoms in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized.
China has been widely criticized for not being "transparent" in helping nations across the world to look into the origins of the virus.
In his Tuesday night rant, Graham also alleged that if Trump was right about the Wuhan leak, "it would have changed the outcome of the 2020 election."
"And it we could have proven early on in 2020 it was a lab leak coming from China, not occurring naturally, the public would want revenge against China, and who would they turn to, Biden or Trump?
"I think this letter by these scientists was orchestrated by somebody to shoot down the idea of the lad leak because they were worried about their own ass being in the sling because of their relationship with China."
Republicans have also been highly critical of Dr Fauci's handling of the Covid pandemic after it was revealed that the US had sent more than $800,000 to the Wuhan lab to fund coronavirus research over the course of five years leading up to 2020.
The Lancet report Graham kept referring to in his Hannity interview was reportedly orchestrated by Peter Daszak, the president of a nonprofit called EcoHealth Alliance.
EcoHealth Alliance connected the US grant money from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
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