Two influential congressional committees are seeking testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci and key figures in the Biden administration regarding the origins of COVID-19 and the allocation of U.S. taxpayer funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, and Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, are leading the investigation.
They are also seeking testimony and information from Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance; Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence; Dr. Francis Collins, acting science adviser to President Joe Biden; and Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The investigation marks a renewed effort by Republican representatives to uncover the truth about the COVID-19 pandemic and its origins. The committees hope to shed light on the funding and research activities of the Wuhan institute and its potential impact on the spread of the virus.
‘Can’t Accept’ Stonewalling
On Feb. 13, Wenstrup and Comer sent a letter to Fauci to renew a request made on Dec. 13, 2022, for his testimony (pdf).
The letter noted that the subcommittee is authorized to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, including “the Federal Government’s funding of gain-of-function research.”
The committee also has the power to probe “executive branch policies, deliberations, decisions, activities, and internal and external communications” related to the pandemic under H. Res. 5, the lawmakers reminded Fauci.
“The American people deserve real answers after years of suffering through the Coronavirus pandemic and related government policies,” Wenstrup said in a statement. “This investigation must begin with where and how this virus came about so that we can attempt to predict, prepare, or prevent it from happening again.”
“Government scientists and government-funded researchers have so far been less-than-forthcoming in their knowledge and actions, including work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology and potential pandemic pathogens,” he continued. “We can’t accept more years of stonewalling; the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic is committed to conducting a proper investigation that the American people have demanded.”
They informed Fauci that he will be contacted to schedule a transcribed interview, with the possibility of follow-up interviews.
Requests for Documents, Phone Records
In a letter to Daszak (pdf), Wenstrup and Comer renewed their previous requests for the production of certain documents and records, to be provided no later than Feb. 20.
They requested several documents and communications related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and calendars and phone records from November 2019 to the present of specific individuals, namely Daszak, Dr. Aleksei Chmura, Dr. Kevin Olival, Dr. Armine Arustamyan, and Dr. Hume Field.
The subcommittee also requested all documents and communications between EcoHealth Alliance and its subsidiaries and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as well as between federal agencies and EcoHealth Alliance.
The letter also requested documents and communications related to the PREEMPT project, the Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight Framework, the gain-of-function pause, and the letter in support of Chinese professionals combating COVID-19 published in The Lancet.
“Understanding the origins of COVID-19 is essential to providing accountability and protecting Americans in the future,” Comer said in a statement. “Evidence continues to mount pointing to the virus leaking from an unsecure lab in Wuhan.”
“We know EcoHealth Alliance acted as a middleman, improperly funneling thousands of taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan lab to conduct risky gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses which could have started the pandemic,” he continued. “Dr. Fauci was alerted early on that COVID-19 had markings of a manipulated virus, yet may have chosen to cover it up instead of blowing the whistle.”
Comer added that the committees would keep following the facts to “determine what could have been done differently to better protect Americans from this virus and hold U.S. government officials that took part in any sort of cover-up accountable.”
Similar requests were made of Haines, Collins, and Becerra for the production of information and several documents.
The lawmakers requested from Haines a list of experts and research used in the preparation of the COVID-19 origins assessment (pdf), as well as all documents and communications related to the assessment and intelligence gathered by specific government agencies.
Collins received a letter requesting his testimony, official calendars, and phone records, as well as documents and communications related to grants and affiliations with various federal organizations and individuals regarding the Wuhan institute and the origins of COVID-19.
Becerra was asked for various documents and communications related to the grant at the center of questions around gain-of-function research, the Wuhan institute, and COVID-19 origins.
The request included the official calendars and phone records of six specific individuals from November 2019 to the present, including those of Collins, Fauci, Dr. Lawrence Tabak, Dr. Hugh Auchincloss, Dr. Michael Lauer, and Dr. David Christian Hassell.
Further information requests related to the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Department of Health and Human Services, EcoHealth employees, and WIV employees.
The subcommittee also requested any and all documents and information resulting from a previous request made by the Committee on Energy and Commerce to Tabak.