Fauci denies using personal email for official business amid subcommittee investigation

Emails suggest possible "secret back channel" to avoid FOIA requests, but Fauci maintains communications were not work-related.

Fauci denies using personal email for official business amid subcommittee investigation
AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib
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During a hearing of the Republican-led Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, denied using his private email to conduct official government business. The subcommittee is seeking access to Fauci's personal accounts as part of its investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fauci testified, "To the best of my recollection and knowledge, I have never conducted official business via my private email." However, emails from Dr. David Morens, Fauci's former senior adviser, suggest the existence of a "'secret' back channel" and indicate that Fauci may have used a private account to circumvent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

While Fauci acknowledged the possibility of communicating with Morens through a private channel, he maintained that such exchanges would have been related to writing scientific chapters together and not official business. He also distanced himself from Morens' actions, stating that he "knew nothing" of his former aide using a personal email account or deleting emails to avoid FOIA requests.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), chairman of the subcommittee, has requested communications from Fauci's personal email accounts and cellphone records by June 12, specifically related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, EcoHealth Alliance, Inc., the origins of COVID-19, and congressional oversight of these issues.

The investigation comes amid heightened scrutiny of EcoHealth Alliance and its president, Peter Daszak, who recently had its taxpayer funding cut off by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), due to support of coronavirus and gain-of-function research in China that may have led to a lab leak. Fauci acknowledged potentially discussing Daszak with Morens but denied using a private email to message Daszak directly or seeking to protect the virus research group.

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