FIRST ON FOX: A CIA whistleblower told Congress that the agency offered officials on a team investigating COVID-19 origins “significant monetary incentive” to change their positions, from that it originated out of a leak from the Wuhan lab to “unable to determine” the origins, Fox News Digital has learned.
Fox News Digital obtained letters House Coronavirus Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner sent to the CIA and a former official.
“The Select Committee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have received new and concerning whistleblower testimony regarding the Agency’s investigation into the origins of COVID-19,” Wenstrup and Turner wrote to CIA Director William Burns Tuesday.
“A multi-decade, senior-level, current Agency officer has come forward to provide information to the Committees regarding the Agency’s analysis into the origins of COVID-19,” they wrote.
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The whistleblower told Congress that the CIA assigned seven officers to a COVID Discovery Team, which consisted of “multi-disciplinary and experienced officers with significant scientific expertise.”
“According to the whistleblower, at the end of its review, six of the seven members of the Team believed that intelligence and science were sufficient to make a low confidence assessment that COVID-19 originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China,” Wenstrup and Turner wrote.
“The seventh member of the Team, who also happened to be the most senior, was the one officer to believe COVID-19 originated through zoonosis.”
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“The whistleblower further contends that to come to the eventual public determination of uncertainty, the other six members were given a significant monetary incentive to change their position,” they said.
Wenstrup and Turner said the allegations come from “a seemingly credible source,” and requires the committees to conduct further oversight of “how the CIA handled its internal investigation into the origins of COVID-19.”
The lawmakers set a deadline of Sept. 26, 2023 for the CIA to turn over all records regarding the establishment of the COVID Discovery Teams; records regarding communications from those teams; all documents and records involving CIA communications with all members of federal government agencies including the FBI, State Department, Health and Human Services, Energy Department and more.
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The lawmakers are also asking for documents and communications regarding “the pay history, to include the awarding of any type of financial or performance-based incentive/financial bonus to members of all iterations of the COVID Discovery Teams.”
Wenstrup and Turner wrote in a separate letter to the former chief operating officer at the CIA, Andrew Makridis, saying that the whistleblower suggested he “played a central role in its formation and eventual conclusion that the CIA was unable to determine” the origins of COVID-19.”
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Wenstrup and Turner requested Makridis participate in a “voluntary transcribed interview on Sept. 26, 2023.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence in June released a declassified COVID-19 origins report to members of Congress, which analyzed the U.S. intelligence community’s understanding of the Wuhan Institute of Virology at the center of the theory that the pandemic could have come from a lab leak.
The intelligence community has not come to a conclusion on whether the pandemic was spurred by a lab leak or from “natural exposure” by an infected animal—like at one of the wet markets in China.
“All agencies continue to assess that both a natural and laboratory-associated origin remain plausible hypotheses to explain the first human infection,” report said.
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The National Intelligence Council and several other intelligence community agencies have assessed that natural contact with a wild animal was the cause, while the Energy Department and the FBI believe COVID-19 originated from a lab leak.
The report said the CIA and another unnamed agency haven’t come to a conclusion, “as both hypotheses rely on significant assumptions or face challenges with conflicting reporting.”
But “almost all” of the agencies have assessed it was not “genetically engineered” and the entire intelligence community agrees that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was “not developed as a biological weapon.”