Fauci made the remarks during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week. Stephanopoulos first played a short clip from an Axios interview with Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who said President Joe Biden should "absolutely" dismiss Fauci "just for lack of judgment if nothing else."
Paul added of Fauci: "He's probably never going to admit that he lied. He's going to continue to disassemble and try to work around the truth and massage the truth."
Fauci said, "I obviously totally disagree with Senator Paul. He's absolutely incorrect. Neither I nor Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the NIH, lied or misled about what we've done," adding, "he is not correct that we lied or misled the Congress."
Lawrence Tabak, the NIH's principal deputy director, said in a Wednesday letter that Peter Daszak's EcoHealth Alliance provided a five-year progress report on bat coronavirus research administered under an NIH grant and that "in this limited experiment, laboratory mice infected with the SHC014 WIV1 bat coronavirus became sicker than those infected with the WIV1 bat coronavirus."
Fauci supported EcoHealth's collaboration with the Wuhan lab, saying, "The framework under which we have guidance about the conduct of research that we fund, the funding at the Wuhan Institute was to be able to determine what is out there in the environment, in bat viruses in China. And the research was very strictly under what we call a framework of oversight of the type of research. And under those conditions which we have explained very, very clearly, does not constitute research of gain of function of concern."
Back in May, Fauci indicated that it would have been "almost a dereliction of our duty" if the NIH had not cooperated with China to investigate coronaviruses as he backed NIH money going to fund "collaboration" with "very respectable Chinese scientists."
Stephanopoulos asked if the NIH letter showed that the U.S. had been funding coronavirus research that was more serious than previously known, and Fauci denied that.
"No, it isn't. We knew what the risk was and what the oversight was. Certainly, they should have put their progress report in a timely manner. No denial of that, and there will be administrative consequences of that," Fauci said.
Collins and Fauci have been fixed in maintaining the NIH did not fund gain-of-function research at the secretive Chinese government facility. The Department of Health and Human Services defines gain-of-function research as research "that improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease" to "enable assessment of the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents."