Fauci disavows adviser who deleted emails 

Dr. Anthony Fauci is sworn in ahead of testifying before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in Washington, on June 3, 2024. Photo by Madalina Vasiliu 
Dr. Anthony Fauci is sworn in ahead of testifying before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in Washington, on June 3, 2024. Photo by Madalina Vasiliu 

By Zachary Stieber 
Contributing Writer 

Dr. Anthony Fauci disavowed a longtime senior adviser at a congressional hearing on Monday and said the official violated federal rules by using personal email for official business and editing the press release of a government grantee. 

Dr. David Morens’ title is a senior scientific adviser to the office of the director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci was the director from 1984 through 2022. 

Morens recently acknowledged to the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic that he deleted emails after unearthed messages showed him bragging about learning how to avoid the Freedom of Information Act. He also communicated frequently with Peter Daszak, the head of the EcoHealth Alliance, which funneled NIAID grant money to a lab in China. 

“I knew nothing of Dr. Morens’ actions regarding Dr. Daszak, EcoHealth, or his emails,” Fauci said. “It is important to point out for the record that, despite his title, and even though he was helpful to me in writing scientific papers, Dr. Morens was not an adviser to me on institute policy or other substantive issues.” 

Fauci also said that Morens did not take part in regular meetings of NIAID leadership or of his immediate staff before agreeing thatMorens violated federal rules by editing an EcoHealth press release, reaching out to the EcoHealth board on behalf of Daszak, and using personal email for official business. 

Morens often spoke of talking with Fauci, including writing after the government paused the primary EcoHealth grant that “Peter, from Tony’s numerous recent comments to me, they are trying to protect you.” 

“I never spoke about protecting him,” Fauci said. “I don’t know where he got that, but that’s not true.” 

In another missive, Morens wrote: “I 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.” 

Fauci said he might have spoken to Morens over personal email addresses about chapters they write for medical books. “I do not do government business on my private email,” he said. 

Members highlighted Morens’ actions and those of Greg Folkers, an aide to Fauci who used strange letter substitutions in an apparent bid to evade FOIA. 

“These men were among your most senior and trusted staff,” Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Virginia, said, pointing to email and calendar records. 

“It is hard to believe that all of this occurred without your knowledge and/or approval,” he added later. 

Rep. James Comer, R-Kentucky, said the actions showed a “troubling pattern of behavior from your inner circle.” 

Democrats largely expressed support for Fauci and condemned what they described as GOP attacks against him. 

“You and our top scientists did everything you could to keep Americans safe during the deadly days of COVID-19,” said Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Florida. “The vast majority of Americans appreciate your work over the years.”  

Fauci Denies Trying to Suppress Lab Leak Theory 

Fauci participated in a phone call on Feb. 1, 2020, that involved a number of outside scientists. Some of these scientists went on to author a paper stating that their analyses “clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.” 

Fauci promoted the paper from the White House podium, alleging it showed the process for COVID-19 “is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.” He said he could not remember who wrote the paper. 

Kristian Andersen, one of the authors, said in an email acquired by the committee that Fauci “prompted” the paper, while co-authors mentioned in other messages that Jeremy Farrar, who first informed Fauci about COVID-19, helped edit the paper. Neither Fauci nor Farrar are credited. 

Andersen, who initially said that COVID-19 looked engineered, went on to receive millions of dollars in funding from the NIAID. 

“The accusation being circulated that I influenced these scientists to change their minds by bribing them with millions of dollars in grant money is absolutely false and simply preposterous. I had no input into the content of the published paper,” Fauci said in opening remarks on Monday. 

After the call, he said, “It was decided that several participants would more carefully examine the genomic sequence.” They ended up concluding that “the most likely scenario was the spillover from an animal reservoir” and “they appropriately published their opinion in the peer reviewed literature.” 

Fauci said he kept an open mind as to the origin of COVID-19, which to date is still undetermined. 

Andersen previously said that his group’s work was not “influenced by Dr. Fauci.” 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS