WASHINGTON – Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe testified before lawmakers on Tuesday and said the COVID-19 Chinese lab leak theory is the “only plausible explanation” and is backed by “our intelligence, by science, and by common sense.”

During his testimony before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, Ratcliffe stressed that the intelligence and evidence supporting the theory of a lab leak as the origin of COVID-19 far outweighed the evidence pointing to a naturally occurring “spillover” theory. 

According to Ratcliffe, if the two theories were placed side-by-side, the evidence for the lab leak theory would be overwhelming compared to the “spillover” theory, which would have very little support. He said he based this claim on an “informed assessment, as a person with as much or more access than anyone to our government’s intelligence during the initial year of the virus outbreak and pandemic onset.”

The investigation is part of the select committee’s efforts to understand the origins of the pandemic and prevent future outbreaks. 

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), who chairs the subcommittee, expressed his continued trust in the select committee and its ability to uncover the origins of the pandemic. Wenstrup emphasized the committee’s determination to investigate all possible leads, despite a chorus of criticism that it is politically motivated.

“There was an unwillingness to investigate this together. The good news is in the intelligence committee, that rift is now gone, and we work together very well,” he said. Wenstrup stressed that “if we are going to do all that we say we want to with this committee to move forward, we have to consider these types of things, the motives, whether they’re political or personal so that we don’t let someone do that again in the future.”

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said the politics surrounding the subject could impede attempts to stop the next epidemic. Dingell also noted that “no one definitely knows” the precise scientific consensus on the origins of COVID-19. However, she emphasized that “China has not been forthcoming,” which is the fundamental problem. 

Wenstrup echoed this sentiment in his description of how China employs coercion to stifle efforts to learn more about the origins of COVID-19. 

“While the specific origin of COVID-19 may not be 100% clear, there’s mounting evidence suggesting a research or lab-related incident. What is clear, though, is that China does not want the globe to know its origins,” he claims. 

Wenstrup disclosed an email the Chinese embassy sent last week in an effort to convey its “grave concerns” about the committee’s ongoing efforts to learn more about the history of COVID-19.  “Well, we have some news for Beijing: these intimidation tactics will not work,” he says.

Wenstrup continued to urge other committee members to join his efforts in a letter he would write decrying the “intimidation tactics” used by China.