Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Aug. 1 suggested that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci are “hiding something” from Americans by redacting key information in correspondence that the public “deserves to have.”
Johnson is one of five Republican senators demanding answers from the HHS after the department redacted parts of an email between National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) chief Fauci and U.S. researcher Peter Daszak, president of the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance.
EcoHealth Alliance has worked directly with China’s Wuhan laboratories to research coronaviruses. The group has sent federal funds to support gain-of-function research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), where there have since been reports of the first possible cases of COVID-19 detected in late 2019.
Daszak’s organization in the past received $3.7 million in funding from NIAID, at least $600,000 of which was sent to the WIV.
Troves of internal emails detailing the findings were obtained by nonprofits and news organizations through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. A portion of an email was redacted using an exemption reserved for information related to “pending law enforcement proceedings.”
“I really want the emails of Dr. Fauci,” Johnson said during an appearance on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” noting that the emails were “heavily redacted.”
“So we sent a letter with five members of my committee, that if five members do request this, the agency shall turn them over to us. We got the exact same FOIA requests, except for one paragraph was not redacted, and when it was redacted, it was for apparently being related to an open law enforcement investigation,” he said.
“But we saw the paragraph,” Johnson said. “It has nothing to do with the law enforcement investigation. So that brings into question all the redactions, and by the way, Congress is not subject to those same four redactions, so they are hiding something. Again, that just reduces my trust and faith in these agencies.
“They need to come clean. They need to be transparent. This is information the American public deserves to have.”
The group of lawmakers, including Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), in a letter last week to Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, also questioned why that portion had been redacted, the Washington Examiner reported.
“The paragraph above does not appear to contain any information that ‘could reasonably be expected to interfere with [law] enforcement proceedings,’” they wrote in their letter. “This example calls into question HHS’s redaction process, not only for FOIA requests from the public but also for documents produced to Congress.”
Fauci and the HHS didn’t immediately respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment.
It comes as calls for a probe into the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus have intensified in recent months as the hypothesis that the virus could have been the product of experiments at the WIV receives wider recognition.
President Joe Biden on May 26 ordered the U.S. intelligence community to conduct an assessment with a 90-day deadline.