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Rand Paul Says Fauci ‘Could Be Indicted’ for Deleting Records


by Fred Lucas

 

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., contends there are grounds to prosecute Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the COVID-19 pandemic in America, based on congressional testimony from a top aide to the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“The most important knowledge that we learned is that [Dr.] David Morens, 20-year assistant to Fauci, was purposely evading FOIA, which is the law. More than that, he was also destroying evidence,” Paul told The Daily Signal, referring to the Freedom of Information Act and Morens’ testimony Wednesday before a House select subcommittee.

“He was taking emails and destroying them.” Paul said of Morens. “When he was asked about it, he said he didn’t know emails were federal records. Nobody is that stupid.”

Paul added later, referring to the veteran government immunologist and his staff: “If Fauci ordered you to destroy these records, I think he could be indicted.”

Morens, former senior adviser to Fauci at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The select committee said it had evidence that Morens obstructed the House investigation of the origin of COVID-19, deleted related federal records, and shared nonpublic information about the National Institutes of Health with Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it would cut funding to EcoHealth Alliance.

Critics of Fauci have said the NIH used EcoHealth to fund “gain-of-function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, which is suspected to have led to the spread of COVID-19. The term “gain of function” describes a risky process of making a pathogen more dangerous or contagious for the purpose of studying a response.

For his part, Morens apologized in front of the pandemic subcommittee and said didn’t know that using personal email for work purposes violated the National Institutes of Health’s record retention policy.

“I shouldn’t have done that. That’s wrong,” he told the House panel.

During the hearing, Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., asked: “Did you ever delete any official records?”

Morens replied: “We are at the issue of defining what’s a federal record. I deleted a lot of emails. I do it every day.”

A subcommittee report says that Morens undermined NIH operations by “backchanneling” confidential information to Daszak at his EcoHealth Alliance.

In his comments to The Daily Signal, Paul stressed that Fauci was implicated in Morens’ testimony.

“He said, ‘Well, I also think Tony has deleted his as well,” Paul said. “So he basically, in his email, implicated Tony for destroying records as well.”

Fauci, who retired at the end of 2022 after 38 years directing his NIH agency, repeatedly has said the United States never funded gain-of-function researchprojects at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. He also has insisted that he never misled Congress on issues related to COVID-19.

Paul and Fauci have clashed repeatedly during Senate hearings. In one of the more well-known exchanges, the Kentucky Republican accused the immunologist of lying to Congress. Fauci responded: “Sen. Paul, you do not know what you are talking about.”

Paul is the author of the recent book “Deception: The Great COVID Cover-Up,” which features Fauci’s image on the cover.

Other government staff involved in deleting federal information should be called to testify and answer if such actions were based on following orders, Paul told The Daily Signal.

Evading the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, the law requiring disclosure of federal public records, isn’t a felony. But destroying governments records is a felony, Paul noted, and it looks like that occurred during a federal investigation.

“Disobeying FOIA and using Gmail [instead of a government email account], you can’t put anybody in jail for that; but destroying records is [a felony],” Paul said. “It’s also destroying records in the middle of an investigation. We referred this investigation to the DOJ for the first time over a year ago. So, during what was supposed to be an investigation, they’re destroying records.”

Morens sought to explain during the House subcommittee hearing Wednesday that he didn’t know using a Gmail account for government work could violate the Freedom of Information Act.

“I realized if a Gmail or an NIH email came to me and I replied to it, for some reason, there was a default where the signature I had on Gmail, which said David Morens of Bethesda, Maryland or something, didn’t go out,” Morens told the House panel. “But the NIH email went out. I don’t know how that happened. I didn’t do it consciously.”

During the hearing, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, chairman of the select subcommittee, asked Morens: “Are you aware that the destruction or attempted destruction of federal records carries a potential punishment of both imprisonment and a fine?”

Morens answered in the negative.

“I was not aware of that, and I was not aware that anything I deleted like emails was a federal record because we have federal records training periodically,” he told Wenstrup. “And the training, you know, that I recall we received, defined a federal record in a very different way than you may be thinking of it. None of it defined it as an email.”

From 2014 to 2019, the U.S. government gave almost $600,000 to EcoHealth Alliance, which in turn used the money to pay for coronavirus research at the lab in China.

The National Institutes of Health, which Fauci’s agency is part of, sent a letter to EcoHealth Alliance in July 2020, asking about its relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. NIH also suspended the nonprofit’s grant, pending answers to several questions.

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Fred Lucas is chief news correspondent and manager of the Investigative Reporting Project for The Daily Signal.
Photo “Anthony Fauci” by Trump White House Archived CC2.0. Background photo “US Senate” by Stephen Melkisethian CC2.0.

 

 





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