Records recently obtained by House Republicans indicate a senior official with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) downplayed the Covid lab-leak theory at the behest of Anthony Fauci.
On Thursday, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, the chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, sent a letter to Dr. David Morens, the NIAID director’s senior scientific advisor, demanding “all documents and communications from Dr. Morens’ personal email and cellphone related to eight, unique COVID origins publications” and any correspondence between Morens and individuals “involved in the COVID origins investigation and narrative.”
“Documents in possession of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic … suggest that you may have used your personal e-mail to avoid transparency and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), potentially intentionally deleted federal records, and acted in your official capacity to disparage your fellow scientists, including by encouraging litigation against them,” Wenstrup wrote.
Included in Wenstrup’s letter is an email suggesting that Fauci — who until December was NIAID director and has dismissed the theory that Covid-19 leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology — instructed Morens to speak with major media in an apparent attempt to downplay such a hypothesis. According to the records, on July 29, 2021, Morens wrote: “But today, to my total surprise, my boss Tony [Fauci] actually ASKED me to speak to the National Geographic on the record about origins. I interpret this to mean that our government is lightening up but that Tony doesn’t want his fingerprints on origin stories.”
National Geographic published an article featuring Morens’ remarks nearly two months later on Sept. 13, 2021, in which he claimed, “There is a progenitor virus out there somewhere, and we should look for it,” but that “at some point, it crosses over from doing due diligence to wasting time and being crazy.”
“We may have seen that point already,” Morens added.
Emails included in Wenstrup’s letter also show Morens allegedly evading open record requests by using a private email address to correspond with colleagues. In a Sept. 9, 2021, email sent to several coworkers and EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak, for example, Morens reportedly wrote: “I try to always communicate over gmail because my NIH email is FOIA’d constantly.”
“Yesterday my gmail was hacked, probably by these [gain-of-function] -ssholes, and until IT can get it fixed I may have to occasionally email from my NIH account,” Morens wrote. “Don’t worry, just send to any of my addresses and I will delete anything I don’t want to see in the New York Times.”
As Helen Raleigh previously reported at The Federalist, EcoHealth Alliance is a nongovernmental organization that from 2014-2020, sent “more than half a million dollars’ worth of U.S. government grants, including those from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with Anthony Fauci’s approval, to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to conduct gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses.” When concerns began mounting in early 2020 that the Covid-19 pandemic could have potentially resulted from a Wuhan lab leak, Daszak quickly dismissed the hypothesis as a “conspiracy theor[y].”
Earlier this year, however, the Energy Department sent a memo to the White House and Congress declaring “the Covid pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak.”
Morens also apparently used his official position to smear scientists he disagreed with and even went as far as to encourage legal action against them. In a Sept. 9, 2021, email exchange with a scientist, Morens apparently smeared two doctors, claiming they were “harmful demagogues” and “NOT experts.” Two days prior, when referencing an Intercept report titled “New Details Emerge About Coronavirus Research at Chinese Lab” in an email to Daszak, Morens told the EcoHealth president he should “not rule out suing these -ssholes for slander.”
Wenstrup notes that while the alleged email was sent from Morens’ personal account, it included the acronyms for the government agencies and offices he worked for in his email signature.
In addition to communication records, the House subcommittee is also requesting Morens appear for an in-person interview on Aug. 2.