Top Fauci Adviser Bragged About Making Emails ‘Disappear’

Dr. David Morens is still employed by the government.
Top Fauci Adviser Bragged About Making Emails ‘Disappear’
Dr. Anthony Fauci, left, and Dr. David Morens. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times; NIAID via The Epoch Times)
Zachary Stieber

A top U.S. government official bragged that he had learned of a way to make emails vanish after receiving Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, messages made public on May 22 show.

“I learned from our FOIA lady here how to make emails disappear after I am FOIA'd but before the search starts, so I think we are all safe,” Dr. David Morens, senior adviser to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wrote in an email on Feb. 24, 2021.

In another missive, Dr. Morens advised friends to try to send emails to his Gmail address. “But if something goes to my govt mail by accident it’s OK, I have spoken to our FOIA folks and am managing my stuff after emails are sent or received, such that I should be safe from future FOIAs. Don’t ask how...”

In a third message, Dr. Morens said he “learned the tricks from an old friend, Marg Moore, who heads our FOIA office and also hates FOIAs.”

The emails were obtained by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and released to the public on Wednesday. They were sent by Dr. Morens using his personal address after he detailed that was one way to avoid FOIA.

Dr. Morens, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and the National Institutes of Health, the institute’s parent agency, did not respond to requests for comment. An email sent to Ms. Moore bounced back.

Dr. Morens is still employed by the government, Dr. Lawrence Tabak, deputy director of the National Institutes of Health, told a congressional panel earlier this month.

Federal law makes it illegal for any custodian of a public record to “willfully and unlawfully” conceal, remove, mutilate, obliterate, falsify, or destroy the record.

Each count can land a violator up to three years in prison.

The emails were presented in a subcommittee report.

“Federal employees are obligated to preserve federal records, which generally includes emails. There’s a very good reason for this—the public has the right to expect the business of government to be conducted in the open. Destroying records for the express purpose of evading FOIA is a blatant and egregious violation of this obligation and should be treated as such,” Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust, told The Epoch Times in an email.

During an appearance before the subcommittee in Washington on Wednesday, Dr. Morens said he was not aware that emails were federal records, citing training he received.

He also claimed that it was not possible to delete emails from the National Institutes of Health records system. “It’s my understanding, if they want to, they can go back all the way to the beginning,” he said.

Dr. Morens has worked for NIAID since 1998. The agency was headed from 1984 until late 2022 by Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Morens was writing in the emails to Peter Daszak, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance group, which funneled money from NIAID to a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

In one message, Dr. Morens told Mr. Daszak and others that “my gmail is now safe from FOIA ... thus it should be safe to communicate safely with you.”

In another missive, Dr. Morens wrote: “We are all smart enough to know to never have smoking guns, and if we did we wouldn’t put them in emails and if we found them we'd delete them.”

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), ranking member of the subcommittee, said he found the emails “deeply troubling” and called for “appropriate accountability for Dr. Morens’ actions.

The emails “provide strong evidence that Dr. Morens violated federal law by concealing and destroying federal records,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) added in a letter on May 22 to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“It is imperative that your department investigate the allegations against Dr. Morens and, if substantiated, ensure that he is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Dr. Paul said.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The emails were released on the same day that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suspended Mr. Daszak, and proposed his debarment, from receiving government money because of his failure to abide by grant conditions.

The grant involved millions of dollars to study bat coronaviruses. Some of the money was funneled to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is located in the same city where the first COVID-19 cases appeared in 2019.

One of the emails from Dr. David Morens. (U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic via The Epoch Times)
One of the emails from Dr. David Morens. (U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic via The Epoch Times)

‘Secret’ Channel

Dr. Morens also said that he could send items to Dr. Fauci on Dr. Fauci’s private email, “or hand it to him at work or at his house.”

Dr. Fauci “is too smart to let colleagues send him stuff that could cause trouble,” Dr. Morens told Mr. Daszak and others in an April 21, 2021, missive.

The next day, Dr. Morens said he had sent information to Dr. Fauci’s Gmail.

Dr. Morens later said that there was a secret channel to communicate to Dr. Fauci.

“I suggested Arthur try to interview Tony directly and connected him to our ’secret' back channel,” Dr. Morens said.

“Evidence in the possession of the select subcommittee suggests that Dr. Morens knowingly transmitted official records to Dr. Fauci via his personal e-mail,” the panel said in its memo. “If true, this raises serious questions of whether Dr. Fauci took part in a conspiracy amongst the highest levels of NIAID to hide official records regarding the origins of COVID-19.

Dr. Fauci did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to him through his employer, Georgetown University.

Dr. Morens said terms like “secret back channel” were “just jokes, jokes that I made in dealing with Peter because he was under death threats and was depressed.”

Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]