Saturday, December 9, 2023

GOP Sen.: Top HHS Official May Have Destroyed Records Related to COVID Origins

'I have tried to make sure I have retained no documents that might lead other members ... to be approached for similar document production...'

(Headline USA) Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., revealed this week that a top official in the Department of Health and Human Services may have “destroyed responsive records” regarding the origins of COVID-19.

In a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on Wednesday, Johnson demanded an interview with David Morens, a former aide to COVID czar Anthony Fauci.

“I am deeply concerned that HHS officials may have intentionally removed or destroyed responsive records on the origins of COVID-19 or on other aspects of the pandemic,” Johnson wrote, according to the New York Post.

The senator cited a June 2021 email sent by Morens to his colleagues about a request for information Johnson and his colleagues had sent to him earlier that month.

“I have tried to make sure I have retained no documents that might lead other members of [American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene] to be approached for similar document production,” Morens wrote. “In other words, I don’t think there is anything to worry about because there is no ‘there’ there.” 

The email also included the subject line, “CONFIDENTIAL WITHIN OUR SMALL GROUP, PLEASE.”

Johnson said the email is evidence Morens “may have intentionally deleted or destroyed records” sought by congressional Republicans in order to “directly obstruct” their “oversight efforts” and the investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another email from Morens cited by Johnson is one in which he explained to colleagues that he “always” communicates “on Gmail because my NIH email is FOIA’d constantly,” and that he would “delete anything I don’t want to see in the New York Times.”

Morens worked as Fauci’s senior adviser at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from 1998 until last year when Fauci retired.

A publicly viewable LinkedIn account that listed him as “open to networking” appeared to indicate as of Thursday night that he remained in the same position at NIAID under its new director. 

Fauci repeatedly downplayed the COVID lab-leak theory, insisting that the virus originated naturally. Republicans have accused him misleading the public in order to shield himself and his agency’s funding of dangerous research in China from criticism.

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