It’s been a rough week for Fauci’s inner circle — and things may get a lot worse

News & Politics

It has been a rough week for scientists who were in Anthony Fauci’s inner circle at the outset of the pandemic — particularly for Peter Daszak, head of the scandal-plagued EcoHealth Alliance, and for David M. Morens, senior scientific adviser to the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Where Daszak is concerned, all his years of protest and lab-leak denial were apparently for nought, given that he has finally been cut off from all federal funding.

The Department of Health and Human Services told the British zoologist in a letter Tuesday that it holds him personally responsible for EHA’s egregious shortcomings, oversight failures, and opacity as it pertains to the dangerous coronavirus experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Morens, who served as adviser to previous NIAID director Fauci, was accused Wednesday by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic of undermining the operations of the U.S. government; unlawfully deleting federal COVID-19 records; using a personal email to avoid the Freedom of Information Act; “acting unbecoming of a federal employee”; and “likely lying to Congress on multiple occasions.”

Daszak makes a cameo in many of the emails that Morens may now be regretting.

The duo, who had a hand in helping Fauci downplay the likely lab origin of COVID-19, may soon face greater consequences than strongly worded letters and suspended funding.

“Dr. Daszak’s impending debarment does not shield him from accountability to the American people,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the coronavirus subcommittee, said in a statement Wednesday. “It appears that Dr. Daszak may have lied under oath about his relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology and his compliance with NIH grant procedures.”

As for Morens, the subcommittee indicated that it now has “overwhelming evidence from Dr. Morens’s own email that he engaged in serious misconduct and potentially illegal actions while serving as a Senior Advisor to Dr. Fauci during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Defunding the unaccountable

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General blasted EHA in a January 2023 report for dropping the ball on oversight regarding the use of grant money on coronavirus research in China and for failing to comply with federal requirements.

On May 1, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic released its own report recommending that EHA be permanently cut off from taxpayer funding and that Daszak similarly be cut off as well as criminally investigated.

“Dr. Daszak and his organization conducted dangerous gain-of-function research at the WIV, willfully violated the terms of a multimillion-dollar National Institutes of Health grant, and placed U.S. national security at risk. This blatant contempt for the American people is reprehensible,” Wenstrup said in a statement.

On May 15, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suspended EHA from participating in federal procurement and nonprocurement programs and proposed its debarment “to protect the public interest.”

Whereas a suspension is a temporary action, a debarment serves as a more definitive denial of grant money that can last for several years and is used primarily for serious violations, according to Nature.

In the memo detailing the decision, HHS suspension and debarment official Henrietta Brisbon reiterated the grievances raised in both the subcommittee’s report and in HHS’ OIG report, altogether making clear that EHA was irresponsible and untrustworthy.

This week, HHS went a step farther, commencing formal debarment proceedings against Daszak.

HHS’ Tuesday letter to the British zoologist states, “The alleged conduct of EHA is imputed to you, because during all or part of the time relevant, you participated in, knew of, or had reason to know of EHA’s improper conduct, through your role as President of EHA, and also as the [program director/principal investigator]” for the relevant grant.

In addition to blackballing Daszak, the letter indicated he is prohibited from doing business with the federal government and receiving a subcontract from a government contractor valued at $35,000 or more and could face a debarment of over three years.

Wenstrup said of Daszak’s fate, “EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak’s personal debarment will ensure he never again receives a single cent from U.S. taxpayers nor has the opportunity to start a new, untrustworthy organization.”

“This step comes just two weeks after the Select Subcommittee released substantial evidence of Dr. Daszak’s contempt for the American people, his flagrant disregard for the risks associated with gain-of-function research, and his willful violation of the terms of his NIH grant,” added Wenstrup.

Justin Goodman, senior vice president of the White Coat Waste Project — a watchdog that helped expose Daszak’s and Fauci’s ties to the gain-of-function experiments at the WIV — told Blaze News in a statement, “The current government-wide suspension, and proposed debarment, of EcoHealth and Daszak will ensure taxpayers aren’t forced to fund any more of their wasteful and reckless virus hunting and animal experimentation that can cause pandemics and create bioweapons, especially their scary scheme to build a new bat virus lab on U.S. soil.”

Outing the opaque

Blaze News previously reported on Morens’ admission in correspondence with Fauci’s inner circle that he opted to use a personal email account and delete the exchanges thereon to evade Freedom of Information requests.

“As you know, I try to always communicate on gmail because my NIH email is FOIA’d constantly,” Morens reportedly wrote to the top scientists involved determining COVID-19’s origins, including Daszak, whose subcontractor Ben Hu conducted deadly gain-of-function experiments on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and was reportedly one of the first infected with COVID-19; virologists Robert Garry, Kristian Andersen, and Edward Holmes; and others.

On Wednesday, the coronavirus subcommittee released a memo presenting previously unreleased email correspondence further indicating that Morens helped Fauci avoid transparency when discussing the origins of COVID-19 — an alleged “conspiracy amongst the highest levels” to hide and potentially “destroy official records regarding the origins of COVID-19.”

In one email to Daszak, dated April 21, 2021, Morens wrote, “PS, i [sic] forgot to say there is no worry about FOIAs. I can either send stuff to Tony on his private gmail, or hand it to him at work or at his house. He is too smart to let colleagues send him stuff that could cause trouble.”

In a May 13, 2021, email where Daszak is copied, Morens wrote, “I suggested to Arthur try to interview Tony directly and connected him to our ‘secret’ back channel. He emailed Tony a few hours ago.”

The subcommittee highlighted other efforts by Morens to “backchannel internal NIH information to EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak” and his discussion of Fauci’s intention to protect Daszak.

There also appears to be evidence that Morens received instruction from the NIH FOIA office on “how to make emails disappear” upon being met with a FOIA request.

In a Feb. 25, 2021, email where Daszak is copied, Morens wrote, “I learned the tricks last year from an old friend, Marg Moore, who heads our FOIA office and also hates FOIAs.”

Like Fauci, Morens apparently preferred to communicate off the record via his personal account.

“I forgot to clarify in my email yesterday that BOTH my gmail and phone calls are now safe. Test is NOT, as it can be FOIA’d, as can my got email,” Morens wrote in a Nov. 19, 2021, letter. “So you and Peter and others sshould be able to email me on gmail only, with the caveat that no other govt. employee is copied at a govt address, as all govt emails are potentially FOIA’able.”

Morens’ help may have come at a price. The subcommittee highlighted one exchange where Morens appears to press Daszak for a “kickback” for his help editing EHA’s grant compliance efforts.

According to the subcommittee, Morens undermined NIH efforts to oversee EHA, provided Daszak “with inside information regarding NIH operations,” and likely provided false testimony to Congress when giving testifying before the subcommittee on Dec. 22, 2023, and Jan. 18.

The New York Post indicated that when Morens, currently on administrative leave, appeared before the subcommittee Wednesday to testify about the findings detailed in the memo, he faced a bipartisan longue lashing.

Ranking member Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) said, “It is not anti-science to hold you accountable for defying the public’s trust and misusing official resources.”

“What troubles me most about your conduct, Dr. Morens, is the extent to which it so willingly betrays decades of dedication, diligence, and decorum from the thousands of federal scientists and public health workers who came before you, who have served alongside you, and who will serve on into the future,” added Ruiz.

Goodman told Blaze News that for allegedly lying to Congress about what happened in Wuhan, Daszak, Fauci, and Morens “can and should face fines and jail time for perjury, as Senator Rand Paul has requested in referrals to the DOJ.”

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