Congress on April 16 subpoenaed a top adviser to Dr. Anthony Fauci who used his personal email to communicate in a bid to evade a federal transparency law.

The U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic issued a subpoena to Dr. David Morens, who for years advised Dr. Fauci as they both worked for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Emails released this month confirmed that Dr. Morens messaged Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance nonprofit, multiple times using his personal email.

One of the emails was sent in 2022 after Dr. Morens told Mr. Daszak and others that he preferred to communicate via Google’s Gmail because his government email was “FOIA’d constantly.”

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lets people request government information, including emails from government officials.

“Just send to any of my addresses and I will delete anything I don’t want to see in the New York Times,” Dr. Morens wrote.

In another missive to a group that included Mr. Daszak, he said that he “retained very few emails or documents” on the origins of COVID-19 “and continue to request that correspondence on sensitive issues be sent to me at my gmail address.”

A whistleblower sent images of headers of emails sent from Dr. Morens’ personal email to the subcommittee. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee, released the images as he requested the emails from Dr. Gerald Keusch, a Boston University professor who was included in them.

EcoHealth then released the emails in full as it said it wanted to “show clearly that EcoHealth Alliance was appropriately communicating with senior staff at the NIH, or who formerly worked at NIH.”

The NIAID is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The emails show that Dr. Morens communicated with Mr. Daszak across four different email chains about a grant from the NIH to EcoHealth for research on bat coronaviruses. EcoHealth funneled some of the funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory in China.

In one message in 2020, Dr. Morens thanked Mr. Daszak for sending information about the work done under the grant after it was terminated by the NIH. “Tony is now fully aware of this and is I am told involved in some sort of damage control,” Dr. Morens wrote. He said he was optimistic the grant would be restored.

“I have let Tony know but have not spoken to him directly,” Dr. Morens wrote in another email around the same time. “There are things I can’t say except that Tony is aware and I have learned there are ongoing efforts within NIH to steer through this with minimal damage to you, Peter, and colleagues, and to NIH and NIAID.”

He also said that he expected officials would “do everything possible to protect you” and that Mr. Daszak and his colleagues “deserve a medal.”

The NIH soon restored the grant, although it eventually barred the Wuhan lab from receiving federal money.
The first COVID-19 cases appeared in Wuhan and some scientists believe that COVID-19 came from the lab.

The new subpoena orders Dr. Morens to hand over documents to the panel on April 30. The documents include communications between himself and a number of individuals, including Dr. Fauci, regarding EcoHealth, the origins of COVID-19, or the Wuhan lab.

“Dr. David Morens purposefully evaded FOIA laws to give his ‘best-friend’ … Peter Daszak non-public, internal information that had the potential to undermine the operations of the United States government. This is not only highly concerning, but it is also likely illegal,” Mr. Wenstrup said in a statement.

“Dr. Morens must be held accountable for any abuse of power and his blatant disregard for the law. The subpoena for Dr. Morens’s personal email communication will ensure that the truth about this federal records violation is brought to light. Unfortunately, this pattern of abusing federal power appears to stretch beyond Dr. Morens, Dr. Daszak, or NIH. This subpoena is an important effort to ensure that federal health officials never again feel empowered to duck accountability to the American people and willfully undermine our elected government.”

Dr. Morens has not responded to requests for comment.

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