Pawtucket Times

Sen. Rand Paul wants to investigat­e origins of COVID-19

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SMITHFIELD, Ky. — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul promised Saturday to wage a vigorous review into the origins of the coronaviru­s if Republican­s retake the Senate and he lands a committee chairmansh­ip.

Speaking to supporters at a campaign rally, the libertaria­n-leaning Kentucky Republican denounced what he sees as government overreach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He applauded a recent judge’s order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and in travel hubs.

“Last week I was on an airplane for the first time in two years and didn’t have to wear a mask,” he said, drawing cheers from the partisan crowd. “And you know what I saw in the airport? I saw at least 97% of the other free individual­s not wearing masks.”

Paul has clashed repeatedly with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has at times been evasive

under questionin­g about the origins of the virus.

Paul, who is seeking a third term this year in Kentucky, said he’s in line to assume a committee chairmansh­ip if the GOP wins Senate control after the November election. The Senate currently has a 5050 split, but Democrats have the slim edge because Vice President Kamala Harris is a tie-breaking vote.

“When we take over in November, I will be chairman of a committee and I will have subpoena power,” Paul said. “And we will get to the bottom of where this virus came from.”

The senator, who is also a physician, continued to offer his theory about the origins of the virus.

“If you look at the evidence, overwhelmi­ngly, not 100%, but overwhelmi­ngly the evidence points to this virus being a leak from a lab,” Paul said.

At the Kentucky GOP rally for Paul, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the state’s senior senator, also pointed to Paul’s opportunit­y to lead a committee if the GOP wins Senate control.

If that occurs, he said, Paul would become chairman of “one of the most important committees in the Senate — in charge of health, education, labor and pensions.”

McConnell was upbeat about Republican prospects in November.

“I’ve never seen a better environmen­t for us than this year,” said McConnell, who is in line to again become majority leader if the GOP reclaims the Senate.

The rally featured a number of other prominent Kentucky Republican­s, including several who are considerin­g running for governor in 2023, when Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear will seek a second term.

In his speech, Paul continued to rail against socialism, saying it would encroach on individual liberties. The senator was first elected to the Senate in 2010.

“When President Trump said he wanted to ‘Make America Great Again,’ I said, ‘Amen,’” Paul said. “But let’s understand what made America great in the first place, and that’s freedom, constituti­onally guaranteed liberty.”

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