Former Fauci advisor grilled by lawmakers after release of ‘deleted’ Covid-era emails - Hindustan Times
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Former Fauci advisor grilled by lawmakers after release of ‘deleted’ Covid-era emails

ByArya Vaishnavi
May 23, 2024 04:24 PM IST

Lawmakers allege that David Morens deleted records critical to the origins of COVID-19, created a “secret back channel” to “hide official records”

Dr. David Morens, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) senior adviser, was grilled by House lawmakers after the release of crucial Covid-era emails. On Wednesday, the ex-Fauci advisor appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. He was questioned over the newly released emails that detail interactions between Morens and Dr. Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, a non-governmental organization that funded coronavirus research in Wuhan, China.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 22: Dr. David Morens speaks during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic hearing on Capitol Hill on May 22, 2024 in Washington, DC. A former top adviser to former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Morens is testifying before the committee on allegations that he attempted to delete emails related to COVID-19. Andrew Harnik/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Andrew Harnik / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)(Getty Images via AFP)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 22: Dr. David Morens speaks during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic hearing on Capitol Hill on May 22, 2024 in Washington, DC. A former top adviser to former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Morens is testifying before the committee on allegations that he attempted to delete emails related to COVID-19. Andrew Harnik/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Andrew Harnik / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)(Getty Images via AFP)

Former top Fauci advisor accused of deleted crucial emails

Lawmakers allege that Morens deleted records critical to the origins of COVID-19, created a “secret back channel” to “hide official records,” and used his personal email account to skirt Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic released a 35-page memo containing the damning emails, per Newsweek.

The memo states that the evidence obtained under subpoena from Morens “incriminates Dr. Morens in 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 (FOIA), and repeatedly acting unbecoming of a federal employee.”

Lawmakers grill Morens over deleted emails

During Wednesday's hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup said, “The information contained in these 30,000 pages of emails are deeply concerning, and in my opinion reflects poorly upon Dr. Morens and the Office of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease under Dr. Fauci’s leadership and the NIH under Dr. Francis Collins."

Meanwhile, Rep. Raul Ruiz said, “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.”

Morens laughs off emails as a ‘joke’

The NIH advisor, who is currently under administrative leave, laughed off his “back channel” emails with Fauci, calling them a “joke.” Morens argued that they had nothing to do with FOIA queries. “I was not aware that anything I deleted like emails was a federal record,” he said at one point during the hearing.

When asked whether he deleted any crucial Covid-19 “records” or had conversations with Fauci about deletions, Morens said, “Not to my knowledge.” “But again, we're at the issue of defining what's a federal record? I deleted a lot of emails. I do it every day,” he added, per Fox News.

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