The House China Select Committee issued its first ever subpoena last week, as it took its investigation into a Chinese-owned lab in California to the next level.
Details: Led by Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and ranking member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the subpoena was issued in coordination with the House Energy & Commerce Committee, according to a person close to the China panel. It ordered the City of Reedley, Calif. — where the lab was located — to provide documents and records last week, this person said.
And the city ultimately turned over thousands of pages of documents, hundreds of photographs, and hours of video, which the panel is still combing through. But already, this person says, “the review of the evidence thus far has identified troubling gaps in safeguards that allowed the clandestine facility to operate with impunity, as well as serious deficiencies in the federal government’s response.”
The lab in question, known as Prestige Biotech and Universal Meditech Inc., has come under national scrutiny, including calls last month from Speaker Kevin McCarthy for further investigation.
Local, state and federal agencies have been investigating the lab, which produced pregnancy and coronavirus tests to sell online. It was shut down in March after authorities found a series of code violations, reports of boxes containing around 1,000 mice (including 200 dead ones), and various infectious contagions stored in refrigerators, such as chlamydia, E. coli, human herpes, HIV, and Covid strains.
The lab became the focus of online speculation over possible production of bioweapons, though subsequent media reports have cast doubt, chalking up original claims to a language barrier issue.