By Zachary Stieber
A top adviser to Dr. Anthony Fauci sought to shield his emails from the public, a newly disclosed document shows.
Dr. David Morens, a longtime official at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told a group of scientists that he used his personal email because he did not want his messages to be released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
“As you know, I try to always communicate on gmail because my NIH email is FOIA’d constantly,” Morens wrote to Dr. Peter Daszak and others on Sept. 9, 2021. He also wrote, “Stuff sent to my gmail gets to my phone, but not my NIH computer.”
Morens said he would delete any emails he did not want to see published by the media.
“Unless there’s much more to the story than is reflected here, this looks like a pretty brazen effort to avoid public records requirements,” Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust, told The Epoch Times via email.
“Transparency is one of the primary expectations that Americans have of their public servants. The American public’s trust in its government is already at dangerously low levels and if officials are deliberately and audaciously attempting to evade their obligations and hide their activities, it’s bound to become even worse,” Chamberlain added.
Morens, the NIH, and the NIAID did not respond to requests for comment.
Morens also wrote that his Gmail account had been hacked, meaning he might have to use his work email for the time being.
Worked for Fauci
Morens has worked since 1988 as a senior adviser to the NIAID director, who until late 2022 was Fauci.
Morens was writing to a group including Kristian Anderson of Scripps Research, Dr. Robert Garry of Tulane University, and Edward Holmes, a professor at the University of Sydney.
The NIAID funded risky experiments at a laboratory in Wuhan, China, where the first COVID-19 cases were detected in 2019. Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance funneled the money to the lab.
Emails that have been released under FOIA show that Fauci and other top U.S. officials scrambled shortly after the pandemic started to address the idea that COVID-19 originated in the same lab they funded, referencing a paper from Chinese scientists that found a virus they were experimenting with was 96 percent similar to COVID-19. The emails showed that Fauci participated in a call that included Andersen, Garry, and Holmes.
That trio soon published a paper that claimed to show COVID-19 “is not a laboratory construct nor a purposefully manipulated virus.” Fauci prompted the drafting of the paper, according to other disclosed emails. Fauci has not denied he was involved.
Morens, meanwhile, coauthored a May 2020 paper with Daszak that said “since 1999, China’s numerous live-animal markets have arguably led to three important epidemics and now, a pandemic, although the ultimate origins of pandemics can rarely be known with certainty.” Morens also called Daszak “the smartest guy in the room with respect to these coronaviruses.”
Instruction From Fauci
In another message, Morens revealed Fauci instructed him to speak to the press about the origins of COVID-19.
“For many months, I have not been approved to talk about ‘origins’ on the record. But today, to my total surprise, my boss Tony actually ASKED me to speak to the National Geographic on the record about origins,” Morens wrote on July 29, 2021.
“I interpret this to mean that our government is lightening up but that Tony doesn’t want his fingerprints on origin stories,” Morens added.
Morens told National Geographic about the search for the pandemic origins that, “at some point, it crosses over from doing due diligence to wasting time and being crazy.”
Fauci could not be reached. Fauci has consistently backed the theory that COVID-19 emerged from nature, even though it has not been found in nature years later.
Morens was writing to Bloomberg reporter Jason Gale and others, prefacing the disclosure that he was instructed to talk by saying that he could speak to reporters, but typically on background or off the record.
“In the US government we all have to get approval from HHS or the Whitehouse [sic] to speak to the press,” Morens wrote, referring to the Department of Health and Human Services, the NIH parent agency. “Sometimes they are touchy about certain issues and say no. For many months, I have not been approved to talk about ‘origins’ on the record.”
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the select committee, said in a June 29 letter to Morens that the emails “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.”
“Your e-mails also raise concerns that you may have knowledge or information suggesting Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), wished to influence the COVID-19 origins narrative without his ‘fingerprints,’” Wenstrup wrote.
Wenstrup said he was troubled by the emails and requested communications from Morens’s Gmail account.
The congressman also wants Morens to sit before the panel and answer questions.