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Rep. Wenstrup investigates NIH conspiracy to evade FOIA, avoid transparency

Washington, D.C. – Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) is investigating a potential conspiracy at the highest levels of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – specifically the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Evidence suggests NIH officials received instructions on how to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and avoid public transparency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Newly uncovered documents show that Dr. Anthony Fauci’s senior adviser, Dr. David Morens, consulted with the NIH FOIA office on best practices for deleting official records. 

Dr. Morens went so far as to write in one email “i learned from our foia lady here how to make emails disappear (sic).” 

The documents also show that Morens gave his “best friend” and controversial NIH grant recipient, EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. (EcoHealth) President Dr. Peter Daszak, preferential treatment by forwarding him potentially damaging FOIA productions prior to public release. Morens and Daszak even mention that their emails may suggest they were “‘conspiring’ together in some way.”

Further evidence shows that Fauci’s former chief of staff, Greg Folkers, also utilized FOIA evading tactics by strategically misspelling words. This evasion tactic ensures that when the NIH searches its email server for key words that are responsive to a FOIA request, Folkers’s emails that contain the misspelled key word are not identified or produced as a responsive document. In one email produced to the Select Subcommittee through a subpoena, Folkers appears to have purposefully misspelled “EcoHealth” as “Ec~Health.”  

Although the NIH claims it conducted a thorough investigation into Morens, these evasive tactics — along with previously uncovered evidence that Morens began using a Proton Mail account after his Gmail was probed by the Select Subcommittee — raise serious concerns that the NIH’s investigation missed important information. Today, Chairman Wenstrup is requesting a staff-level briefing on the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) investigation into Dr. Morens and offering NARA access to all documents in possession of the Select Subcommittee related to this investigation.
 
In response to the new evidence suggesting a potentially orchestrated coverup by the NIH FOIA office, Chairman Wenstrup is also requesting the NIH immediately brief Select Subcommittee staff on its record retention and transparency policies.
 
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