Dr. Anthony Fauci was grilled by Republican members of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Monday morning following revelations from his senior advisor Dr. David Morens that the scientists had a secret backchannel of communication to avoid FOIA requests. Chairman Brad Wenstrup, in comments to the New York Post, said that a criminal referral or conviction is possible for NIH scientists who are involved in a cover-up pertaining to the origin of COVID-19.

Last week, Wenstrup called for Dr. Fauci to turn over any communication via his private personal emails and text messages with government employees regarding EcoHealth Alliance, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the origins of COVID-19. The letter to Fauci asks for these documents no later than June 12 or a letter stating that no records could be found.

Dr. Fauci began his prepared statement by discussing his 38 years working with NIAID and the NIH. He stressed his role during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. Fauci said he collaborated with pharmaceutical companies to develop anti-retroviral drugs that saved the lives of hundreds of thousands. He also discussed how he and the NIH worked to develop vaccines for Operation Warp Speed and pointed to a study by the Commonwealth Fund that says the vaccination program prevented 18.5 million hospitalizations and 3.2 million deaths.

Fauci emphasized that the NIH needs the continued bi-partisan support it has received during his tenure in order to prevent future pandemics. Then, he addressed several accusations that he called “misinformation” and “disinformation.” This includes his attempt to cover up the discussion about a potential lab leak theory. He was recently accused of offering money to Kristian Anderson for authoring the proximal origins paper but said claims that this was a bribe are “preposterous.”

Furthermore, Dr. Fauci said the “insidious accusation” that the EcoHealth Alliance bat coronavirus studies in Wuhan led to the creation of the pandemic virus is “molecularly impossible,” and any “qualified evolutionary virologist would confirm” that notion. He denied that David Morens was an advisor in any capacity besides his official title. He said, “To the best of my recollection,” David Morens did not attend the weekly NIAID leadership meetings or the daily Office of the Director leadership meetings. He closed out his statement by saying, “To the best of my knowledge, I have never conducted official business via my personal email.”

Chairman Brad Wenstrup asked Dr. Fauci to confirm his statements about needing to rely on virologists to determine the pandemic’s origins. Wenstrup asked Fauci about CDC Director (at the start of the pandemic) Dr. Robert Redfield, who is a virologist. Fauci acknowledged that Redfield was not invited to be a part of the call where the scientists were discussing the origins of COVID-19. Redfield has said that scientific evidence supports the lab leak hypothesis. Redfield has also said more recently that the gain-of-function research on H5N1 is going to cause the next pandemic, while a natural zoonotic spillover event for H5N1 is extremely unlikely.

Chairman Wenstrup inquired about Zhou Yussen, a scientist affiliated with the Chinese military who received grant funds from NIAID. Dr. Fauci replied that he was not familiar with this scientist. Yussen was working on a COVID-19 vaccine in 2019 at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and mysteriously died in May 2020 after he “fell from the roof of the Institute.” Wenstrup asked Fauci if he was concerned that scientists linked to the Chinese military are receiving funding from the NIAID. Fauci never provided a clear answer to the question.

Wenstrup pressed Fauci about whether he had interactions with intelligence agencies regarding viral research and bioweapons research. After some back and forth, Fauci said “I was briefed by intelligence agencies about possibilities of there being activities going on in different laboratories.”

One of the uncovered emails was sent to Lawrence Tabak by Francis Collins. Collins said, “I reached Tony [Fauci]; he is now informed. Hugh was with him and was going to make sure Tony had the precise details of the nature of the work being done in Wuhan through this grant.” This message was sent on April 15, 2020, after lockdown protocols were already in effect in the United States.

Fauci denied there was any backchannel communication or that he was involved in any sort of coverup. When pressed about the emails from his advisor, Dr. David Morens, Fauci said he has never used his personal email to conduct government business. Fauci denied any communication, in which he attempted to dodge FOIA requests, and suggested that Morens was communicating with somebody lower in command at the NIAID rather than Fauci.

Morens’ title is the Senior Advisor to the Director of NIAID, which is Fauci. He held that position for over 20 years. Fauci acknowledged that he knew Dr. Morens was close friends with EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak. He didn’t think there was any concern regarding a conflict of interest but said, “From what we know now, he definitely had a conflict of interest.”

Fauci said Morens’ actions to dodge FOIA requests and to help Daszak obtain his grant went against NIAID policies. During the course of the hearing, Fauci also said he agreed with the debarment of Daszak and EcoHealth Alliance. Fauci was also pressed about NIH scientists receiving $710 million in royalties from pharmaceutical companies from 2021 to 2023. The story broke on Sunday in the New York Post. Fauci denied that he had been paid anything by drug manufacturers and mentioned a monoclonal antibodies patent that earned him about $100 a year.

Senator Rand Paul has been criticizing Fauci since the beginning regarding his personal definition of gain-of-function research. Emily Kopp, a journalist for Right to Know, obtained emails from FOIA that prove Fauci perjured himself under oath in front of the Senate with Senator Paul and again in the House oversight committee. A letter from the NIH to Kevin McKoskey provides details on whether McKoskey’s experiments are classified as gain-of-function research and whether they would be subject to the pause that the agency placed on this type of research.

The letter states three of his experiments are not gain-of-function research because they do not “involve the generation of a replicating SARS-CoV variant with enhanced pathogenicity and/or transmissibility via the respiratory route.”

The NIH letter said McKoskey’s fourth experiment is subject to the gain-of-function pause because it will “generate SARS-like viruses with enhanced affinity for human receptors (via both reverse genetics and serial passaging).”

Emily Kopp wrote on X, “Fauci has claimed the term “gain-of-function” did not apply to enhancing bat coronaviruses and that it only really applies to viruses that have already been proven to cause severe disease.” That is not what is reflected in the letter sent by the same NIH organization in a 2016 letter to Kevin McKoskey.

Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist, wrote “More important, Fauci’s definition does not match the official, legally controlling definitions, in the US policies in effect in 2014-2017 and 2018-present. Fauci is a serial perjurer. He piles perjury on top of perjury on top of perjury.”

There is still an open discussion regarding whether the COVID-19 virus started from a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology or had a zoonotic origin from the Wuhan wet market. Despite that, the FBI has moderate confidence that lab leak is the most likely cause of the pandemic, and the Energy Department came to the same conclusion with a low level of confidence. It is possible that any evidence supporting either notion will be insufficient to confirm with 100% certainty whether the outbreak was caused by a lab leak or zoonotic transfer from a wet market.

The New York Times published an op-ed on Sunday detailing multiple reasons that the original virus “probably” started in a lab.

The purpose of the subcommittee is to investigate the origins, and they may never reach a confident conclusion in that regard. They do, however, have evidence that NIH scientists at the highest level worked to suppress information that may point to a lab leak origin. That is one thing that Chairman Wenstrup said could lead to criminal indictments for those involved.

In an interview on Fox News, Senator Rand Paul said Fauci committed a felony by lying about gain-of-function research and is responsible for the lab leak origin cover-up. “Our investigation has confirmed that he did indeed lie,” Senator Paul said. “He committed a felony. He said that the NIH did not fund gain-of-function dangerous research in China. We now know that to be untrue. We know he committed a felony. What we’ve discovered now is there was a massive cover-up from the very beginning. There was a behind-the-scenes effort to change people’s opinions. Many of the Fauci colleagues all believed that the virus did come from the lab. Their opinions were all changed, but then all the evidence was covered up. They began using burner phones. They began using couriers. It sounds more like the CIA than the NIH. They say, ‘oh we’re safe now. I deleted all of those emails. I think we’re safe now.’ What in the world would they mean by I think we’re safe now?”

Senator Paul continued, “Ultimately, the buck stops with Anthony Fauci. He was in charge of the place, and he has a responsibility, not only for the cover-up, but also responsibility for letting dangerous research go on that led to a pandemic, in all likelihood led to a pandemic that killed millions of people.“







Steven Middendorp

Steven Middendorp is an investigative journalist, musician, and teacher. He has been a freelance writer and journalist for over 20 years. More recently, he has focused on issues dealing with corruption and negligence in the judicial system. He is a homesteading hobby farmer who encourages people to grow their own food, eat locally, and care for the land that provides sustenance to the community.

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