“How did these guys get $50 million in funding? … That’s moving a lot of money in federal government.”
On Kash’s Corner, we discuss an investigation by Epoch Times’ journalists Jeff Carlson and Hans Mahncke. After reviewing funding data, they found that four scientists who were at the forefront of pushing the natural origins narrative received millions in grant money from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 2020 and 2021.
Kash Patel: Hey everybody. And welcome back to Kash’s corner. I’m here again with my good friend Jan and we got a couple of great topics to talk about today.
Jan Jekielek: Well, Kash, why don’t we start off with a new article this time by Hans Mahncke and Jeff Carlson. This is quite incredible. I’m just going to read the full headline, but it speaks to something that you and I have been talking about quite a bit in the past. Here’s the headline, “Scientists Who Were Instrumental to COVID-19 ‘Natural Origins’ Narrative Received Over $50 Million in NIAID Funding in 2020 to 2021.”
So, basically these guys jumped in, they looked at basically the funding, the details of the funding that had been put out during these years. And they found that these, a number of very, very prominent scientists, three of them were actually involved in this proximal origins paper that set the narrative that you can’t, that basically that the lab origin or possible lab leak, that’s all a conspiracy theory. They were actually, these people were involved right in this paper. And a number of them got a lot of, appeared to have gotten a lot of, a boost in funding.
Mr. Patel: I don’t even know where to start because this it’s such a problematic issue in government. And I’m glad that Epoch Times is doing a great job covering this issue. It’s critically important to government oversight. And we’ll talk about that in a second about holding people accountable internally in government.
But as a guy who was in all three branches of government at one point in his career, we sign onto these agreements when we sign up to serve that you can’t do anything for yourself, pecuniary, monetary gain. You can’t sort of go on the side and have alternate revenues or get funding for your programs through the process.
That’s just not outlined like it is for the NIH stuff. And that’s what most people don’t dive into, because I don’t think before COVID, Jan, how many people even knew what NIH was? I had heard of it and I knew they were doing lots of things in the medical field, but we just never pressed on these matters. And I thought it was something, these conflict free funding streams were, I thought, supposed to be everywhere in government, but it seems that’s not the case. And I’m glad you brought up this article and there’s a whole host of parameters I’d like to get into on this stuff.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, no. Absolutely, and the thing is we don’t know the reasons exactly that they got these funding increases. It’s just that I think what this brings to light is this is something that should be investigated, that should be looked at. And maybe this is actually where we can start, when such information comes to light, for example, because we know for example that this narrative of natural origins was unreasonable scientifically. That at least we know that much. And so what happens in this sort of situation where you see this kind of curious timing, correlation, so to speak.
Mr. Patel: And I think you’re right. And I think we should say at the outset it’s worth investigating, —looking into. We don’t know the details behind it. So we can’t jump to conclusion and say everything they did was bad or not by the book, I want to be upfront about that. It just looks very suspicious. And typically, what happens is you have… nowadays you have fewer and fewer great journalists, but they break a story like this. And that’s how it gets on people’s radars.
And then you and I talk about it and it gets out there and other people start to take notice and say, “Wait a second, this doesn’t smell right. These are people in government that were not elected but nominated to serve in these positions. Are they doing everything by the book?” And there’s a couple different avenues you can go here, Jan. And I’ve had some experience on the Capitol Hill side of things, it’s called constitutional oversight.
So what happens is there’s committees on Capitol Hill: there’s the Banking Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee and Finance Committee. And in this instance, there’s committees related to not just COVID, but also medical funding, research grants, and things like that.
That’s where Congress legislates the funding because it has to come from Congress. There has to be a law or a rule passed in Congress in a budget so that this money can be spent according to that law. What happens is a lot of these committees then look at how that money was actually spent. Did it go to the legislative purpose? Did it go to the reason why that funding stream was created?
And what happens is the committees have these subcommittees, not to get into too much of the weeds, but they start taking a look at these things when news breaks and say, “Wait a second, how do these guys get $50 million in funding in such short turnaround,” that’s moving a lot of money in federal government for something as important as COVID origins and treating COVID and things like that.
So, that’s one aspect of it. We can get into others, but I don’t know that I’ve seen Congress take this mantle up to dive into this funding stream. And I hope they will, but as you know, there’s limited bandwidth in D.C. these days on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, and so obviously this is all from these FOIA requests. Looking at emails and then looking at and corresponding funding that was allotted. In one case that’s actually, I think quite notable that they-
Mr. Patel: Can I just stop you? Sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt, but you brought up a great point Jan, that I didn’t even get into. FOIA for people that don’t know what that is for our audiences, Freedom of Information Act. It was a federal statute that was passed by Congress years and years ago.
And the purpose of it is because there’s not supposed to be any secrets in government from its citizenry apart from classified information, and that’s a whole different deal in terms of the national security apparatus. But the FOIA Act and legislation was passed so journalists, everyday Americans from across the country, can go and write to their government and say, “I want the pages and documents related to the funding of this research. I want the pages and documents from the Department of Justice, from the FBI, from the Department of Agriculture, from senior leadership in government.”
Mr. Jekielek: So here’s one of the things they found. So this is really interesting because three of the guys were on this February call with Dr. Fauci themselves. They had expressed sort of significant probability [or] likelihood that this was a lab origin or lab leak, but then later, that this proximal origin. That same day, the first draft of that proximal origin paper was written by a number of them basically saying no, that’s impossible. It has to be natural.
The fourth person who’s cited in this article is actually Peter Dazsak. And what’s really interesting is the timing of his grants. Actually, it comes very shortly after President Trump had actually revoked his previous grant from NIAID in April, 2020 because of his connection with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Mr. Patel: Yes. And I think, man, there’s so much to impact there. The layers of investigation that need to happen here. A: how did this funding stream come about so quickly to these individuals for such an extensive amount of money, how did they specifically tailor funding to support their research so quickly. Those answers aren’t going to be had by just sending one or two individuals to Congress to testify before a public committee.
Those answers are going to be had by the documentations of the applications for the grants, which also you can get through the FOIA process. Interviews of these individuals who, which I think should be, they should be subject to interview and say fully to the American people and explain how did they get these tens of millions of dollars in total and then what did they do with it? And were they biased in trying to get this funding stream?
That’s the kicker for me, Jan. It’s that you’re taking American taxpayer dollars and you’re saying, “Okay, is it appropriate to use that money? Are we doing what Congress legislated that money to go to? And is it serving the function of the American people?” And if it’s not, and if there’s some sort of mischief for lack of a better word here or foul play, then we’re talking about a lot of money.
That’s not how research and grants are supposed to work. You’re supposed to bid for it. You’re supposed to have a nexus to a government purpose for it. And then you’re supposed to put out the research that comes from your work. You’re not supposed to sort of reverse engineer and say, “Hey, I have a specific expertise in X, Y, or Z. So we’re going to take that $10 million and use it for X, Y, or Z.” I think that’s what ticks off so many Americans. And if that’s what’s happened here, then I think [it] is a breaking news story.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, and there’s this other element it strikes, people keep kind of referencing this idea that, on the one side, the people that are doing, kind of setting the policy are the people doing the funding. And that there’s potential conflict of interest. The term conflict of interest comes to mind. And so how does that actually work? Because there’s also these carve outs because conflict of interest obviously is something that is looked at very seriously in these sorts of funding agencies. So how does this all work?
Mr. Patel: So each government agency has rules in place. Each government agency and department has an office of general counsel, a team of lawyers that sort of runs the everyday operations in terms of legalities and conflicts for any such department: NIH, Department of Agriculture, Department of Justice, FBI, what have you. What they’re supposed to do is keep their employees in check.
And when employees onboard at these agencies, like the one we’re talking about today, they sign these forms that basically say we will conduct our jobs conflict free. These are the types of conflicts that can come up in the medical field. These are the types of conflicts that can come up at DOD. I’m just making up a couple of different examples, but they apply in every agency and department.
Let me take it back to something I have familiarity with, national security. So, when I was a terrorism prosecutor at the Department of Justice, the national security division has well, some of the most stringent policies that prosecutors have to follow to be apolitical because we’re doing national security investigations. And we actually sign onto these documents, and we have oversight from our lawyers within the department to make sure we’re not breaking those rules and those ethical boundaries. And it’s very critical because that’s national security.
This isn’t too far afield from national security. We’re talking about COVID origins and the treatment of COVID and research that Americans and the world are going to rely on to live their lives with COVID and beyond.
So, if that information in that research was sort of, I don’t want to say jimmied, but it was sort of rigged ahead of time to put out a certain outcome narrative that was tailored by a couple of individuals who were selected for this grant, received it and put it out instead of putting out the facts, I think that’s extremely problematic. And honestly, I’m just shocked that no one else, I haven’t seen it being covered by anyone else other than Epoch [Times] and it’s just mind boggling to me.
Mr. Jekielek: So, and tell me about this, this carve out scenario because there are specific. There are examples where there are exceptions in situations where there’s perceived conflict of interest and so forth.
Mr. Patel: Yes. So what happens normally, Jan is you identify the conflict within your agency, and then you go to the heads of that agency, and you say, “Hey, I am notifying you of this conflict of interest. Here is my written memorandum saying what the conflict is, how I can deal with it, I’m submitting it.” So, I’m making the department, the government aware of it.
Then what happens is they have internal review processes at every department and agency that reviews set conflict. And then there’s an adjudication, a determination made to say, “Is this an actual conflict that we can “waive?” Is this not a conflict at all? Or is this a conflict that can’t be overcome? And thus, you need to be recused from this case, this study, this process.
It’s a pretty extensive and rigorous process. And I think the American people should be heartened by the fact that it exists—that every agency and department. What I think ticks off, most everyday Americans, is that when these rules are sort of set aside and a select few come in and determine what is and isn’t the conflict and go outside of the normal boundaries to further their own personal job. That’s not the purpose of government. And unfortunately, it looks like that’s where this was born out of.
Mr. Jekielek: Do you see anything in particular that you’re thinking about that’s problematic at this point? Tell me what you’re thinking.
Mr. Patel: Let me give you two examples. One from the legislative branch that most every American has encountered because it’s been covered extensively and then one from the NIH branch, where Dr. Fauci and these folks work.
Stocks. It’s been widely reported that many members of Congress trade on stocks where they are serving on committees that have direct information to that sort of company. Then they go out and make millions and millions and millions of dollars, which for everyday Americans would be what we call insider trading.
But because Congress, unfortunately, is its own watchdog for lack… There’s no other institution looking into Congress but the media and the American citizenry. They’ve sort of given themselves a free pass when it comes to that sort of oversight and looking at what should have been a conflict of interest.
Say you’re on the Energy Committee and you’re the chair of the Energy Committee and you’re dealing extensively with Exxon Mobil and all the other gas and oil companies. And then you go and buy a million in shares of Exxon Mobil because you know the government’s investing $10 billion in their next drilling project somewhere in the north Arctic. That’s insider trading. But unfortunately, there’s no oversight in Congress to cover that. Now that’s just an example of where it fails.
Mr. Jekielek: So wait-
Mr. Patel: I think.
Mr. Jekielek: … let me get this straight. So there’s no rule that says that if you know that, for example, Exxon Mobil is going to get a huge injection from the government that you can’t go out and just buy a whole bunch of Exxon stock because you know… There’s no rule that prevents that sort of activity?
Mr. Patel: There’s an internal rule for members of Congress and members of the Senate that basically says, “You have to conduct your own independent insight into it. And then if you believe it’s not insider trading, it’s not insider trading.” Basically, they’re policing themselves, which is what I think ticks off so many Americans, especially when it comes to stock trading for members of Congress. Which is why you saw the Speaker of the House just recently made north of $25 million in one of her recent trades.
And people were upset about that. And she came out and said, “Well, it’s fine. I’ve been trading this way for 40 years.” And she’s been in Congress for 40 years. But the rest of America doesn’t get to trade like that. That’s what I think is problematic on the congressional legislative side in terms of oversight.
Flipping to the executive branch and looking at Dr. Fauci. One of the things that I saw come up was in congressional testimony in the last week or so. Dr. Fauci went to the hill, and one of the congressmen that he was testifying, or I believe it was a senator he was testifying before asked him to disclose his financial records. And I think that’s part of your service as a government employee. You have to disclose all your financial records because that’s what you sign on for. You can’t withhold that information.
But what I think the Senator was getting at, and this goes to our point that I was talking about is that he called out that failure to disclose and now they’re looking into it. And I think that’s the similar process that is supposed to or should happen with these grants that we’re talking about. It’s all related because they all work for or report to Fauci on these types of conflicts.
And it was kind of shocking for me to see, at least what I saw on the news was Fauci’s initial response. He belittled the Senator. He was caught on a hot mic who asked him that question and issued a personal attack.
For some reason he almost sounded as if it was beneath him to disclose that information to the United States Senate who is the oversight responsibility for all of his funding and all of his research. And he’s the head COVID guy and has been for almost two years. So, I just found that shocking failure of disclosure, at least on his part. And I wonder, what else is there?
Mr. Jekielek: Well, so, okay. And at this point with these disclosures, what do you actually think is going to happen?
Mr. Patel: Well, unfortunately, as you know, Jan, this stuff goes slow. I wish there would be a story and there would be a hearing and then there would be an investigation and then there would be a result. But there’s these things called inspector generals that work at the various departments that can initiate an investigation and a member of Congress can ask them to initiate the investigation.
So, that might occur in this instance. I don’t know if it already has. They can send a private letter to the head of the inspector general unit and say, “Look, we are worried about some of the activities related to this. Please look at this.” And the inspector general has the authority to conduct an internal investigation. A congressional committee could take on the investigation themselves, but those are dictated by who has the majority, who has what we say, the gavel.
Only the chairman can conduct an investigation on behalf of a committee and say, “That’s what we’re going to do.” So those are the two main areas the IG and the oversight committees in Congress can conduct their internal investigations.
But as you pointed out earlier, the FOIA process is critical to this. And I hope people keep FOIA-ing as we say, putting in more and more FOIA requests as they learn more and more about this specific funding stream because the documents as you know, Jan, speak for themselves and that’s how we get it out quicker into the media bloodstream.
Mr. Jekielek: So let’s switch gears here and this is something that caught my eye, and I want to get you to give us kind of your kind of legal take on us. This is a case that’s now in front of the Supreme Court. Again, I’ll read the headline. This is Matthew Vadum, “Boston Flew Communist Chinese Flag, But Refused Christian Flag—Case Now Before Supreme Court.” So apparently what’s happening here basically is that there’s, I think they say in their petition, there’s been in 12 years, 284 flag raising approvals. But because the fact that this particular flag was Christian was mentioned in the application, this was denied.
And the way that Boston is responding to this is they’re saying that this is a violation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. And then of course, there’s this whole kind of bigger picture of what does it mean when this third flagpole has some kind of flag there? What is the city exactly saying?
Mr. Patel: Yes. This is one of those deals that I think you and I are sort of geeking out on for lack of a better work, as we think. I find it fascinating. I think you do too. And obviously it’s making its way to the Supreme Court. So it’s a big legal issue.
The Supreme Court, just to remind our audience, they receive thousands of cases or submitted to the Supreme Court for review every year. They take less than five percent of the submissions. So obviously the Supreme Court justices took this case and said, “It might be a small matter, because we’re talking about a city council flag or city hall flag in Boston.” But I think they take cases that speak to larger legal issues. And I’m sure this is one that’s happening elsewhere.
And you’re right. What they said was this whole thing called the Establishment Clause basically prohibiting the government from entering into religious foray and sort of publicizing one religion over another is the general workings of what the Establishment Clause was sort of stood up for. And I think rightfully so. I think all Americans would agree that they don’t want our government pushing one religion over another or denouncing one versus another. And that’s the basis, that’s the heart of what goes to the Establishment Clause.
What they’re saying here is that Boston, first of all, Boston City Hall is a pretty recognizable government fixture. If you’re from the Northeast, if you’ve ever been to Boston, it’s hard to look at Boston City Hall and not think of anything but government. And I think that was one of the arguments that was put forth by the petitioners in this case, they’re saying, “Well, it’s just City Hall. No one really looks at it that way.”
And I think one of the Supreme Court Justices rightly called them out and said, “It’s Boston City Hall. What else are you supposed to see when you look at the flag of the state of Massachusetts, the flag of America in front of basically the center of their government?” So that’s a very weak argument. I think the Supreme Court, rightly so, called them out on it. But you alluded to something that was actually really important. They did say that they had done this process 200 plus times—flown a number of different flags over the years.
And I like to just hit pause there just because they’ve done it over and over and over again, doesn’t mean they were doing it right. And I think that’s what the Supreme Court was sort of catching onto. Just because it didn’t rise to our level doesn’t it mean that it was appropriate just because you did it 210 times before. And because they put a religious delineation in the application to fly that flag, I think it’s what caught the radar of some folks and led to this suit or this petition for review by the Supreme Court.
So, I think it’s a fascinating legal issue because if you go around the country, government buildings, government offices, state, local, or federal, the application of the law is the same. They’re not supposed to promote any religion, be it by flying a flag, hiring the Goodyear blimp and putting out a message in the sky or wearing clothing at a government office that speaks to one religion over another.
All of that is prohibited by the Establishment Clause at all state levels, local levels and the federal government level. And so it’s a pretty critical legal issue. And I’m kind of shocked that it hasn’t already been adjudicated. I think that’s what I found most fascinating that this matter had not been addressed by the Supreme Court before. And there’s all sorts of applications that will happen once a decision is made here. And I think we’re going to talk about some of them, especially overseas.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, so looking at this, this is the thing that struck me and I don’t know enough about the Establishment Clause, but certainly flag that goes up that flag pole in this, we’ve looked at the setting and we’re going to, we’re going to show an image of it here is gets associated with the Boston government unquestionably.
And in fact, why does the Chinese communist regime want to have its flag up on that flag pole? It’s precisely because it sort of suggests that Boston is saying that we validate you. And of course that is all part of their purpose. So when it comes to these questions, what flags are going up there? What is it that is actually being validated? That’s what I’d be very curious to find out.
Mr. Patel: I think the legal issue that’s being validated is literally they’re trying to decide what can and can’t be flown. And it’s a very slippery slope. Just picture it, Jan, if they allow one flag and not another 99 different flags to fly, what’s the exception to the rule that allows this one particular flag to go up?
Because everybody’s going to come in behind them and say, “Hang on a second, you carved out one exception.” And I think that’s what the Supreme court is trying to guard against because they’re saying the Establishment Clause and the rules that apply constitutionally are so strong that there really isn’t an exception for government at any level to sort of carve out their own rule to allow it to fly.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, but here’s my point. They are actually validating all sorts of, let’s say arguably nonreligious. For example, we have the Chinese communist parties, Chinese communist regimes’ flag, flying up there. What is that saying? Is that something that we want? Is that reasonable for the Boston government to decide to fly the flag of a dictatorship? But it makes me think, what else is up there? What else has gone up there and is that reasonable?
Mr. Patel: And I’m sure it’s not just only in Boston. Pick a town, pick a city in any state in America. Everybody flies a flag in front of their government buildings. Are other people doing it? And to switch gears a little bit, but also on the same line is United States embassy compounds around the world. I’ve been to about 30 or 40 of them in my career. And what they are is they’re the representative building and structure of the United States government on foreign soil. And they of course fly flags.
Every United States embassy flies the American flag. And when I was doing some work on the House Intelligence Committee and we were traveling overseas to about 30 of these locations, some random embassies of ours started flying flags that they thought were appropriate that were not the flag of the United States of America.
And it caused a bit of an uproar in Congress because they wanted to, they, the specific embassy in question wanted to fly a flag promoting X rights or human rights on this level or anti this or something like that. And the slippery slope that we fell into was the same exact one.
Well, if we let this embassy in Manila fly this flag, what about our embassy in Tokyo? What are they going to be able to fly—what’s next? And our representative government buildings, a United States embassy should be flying the flag of America and the other congressionally approved flags such as the killed in action flag or missing in action flag or a military flag or something like that. And I think those are appropriate.
And I think this legal argument has application there, especially to certain people who are looking to make the United States’ embassy a political symbol when it shouldn’t be that. It should be the representative of our government overseas. And our government is represented by the American flag and the flags of the military and things like that. So, we saw this play out a couple years ago and there was actually a bill at the time I was in Congress that was written to address this issue, even though it got drafted and written, it never got passed.
And maybe that’s where actually the answer will go back to is because technically while the Supreme Court is supposed to adjudicate whether or not it’s constitutional or not, the Supreme Court can’t legislate. They can’t go out and issue laws that say these flags are okay and these are not. That’s something that they’ll turn to Congress to do. So it’ll be a lengthy process. As you know, taking a case to the Supreme Court is a multi-year run.
Mr. Jekielek: I recall some kind of a case where was it, the country actually objected to the flying of these different flags?
Mr. Patel: Actually, Jan, that’s a great a point. I was overseas while I was serving on the House Intelligence Committee and I was at our U.S. embassy in the Philippines. And that government actually took a strong position against one of the flags that our embassy there decided to fly because it promoted certain social values that the government there disagreed with.
And you have to remember, even though it’s the U.S. embassy and it’s U.S. soil, it’s still a foreign country. You’re a guest in that nation. And so you can’t just put up a flag because you want to make a political or social statement.
And it became a really big deal. It went all the way back to the State Department, into the halls of Congress to say, “Is this even permissible? Should we be doing this? And if they’re doing this and we allow this in the Philippines and their premier is calling our government and saying, why are you doing this in our country where we’re letting you host your embassy?”
The ripple effect of that is I think could be very catastrophic in terms of who gets to fly what, and then it becomes very personal. And then you take away from the mission. And the mission of the embassy overseas, anywhere for the U.S., is to serve our citizen’s interest while we are in that country.
And so, when you start to degrade the mission with symbolisms like this, I think it hurts our mission overseas. And that’s what I think happened in the Philippines.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, so how do you expect this case, I guess you already sort of suggested, do you expect probably the Supreme Court is going to come out on the side of the city on this one?
Mr. Patel: I think so. My legal expertise days are behind me, but I think it’s a very tough argument for the other side to win this one. The Supreme Court sometimes hints during oral argument which way they’re going to go with the justices asking a very particular set of questions.
In this one, the ones I read demonstrated to me that they were asking the other side for what is your justification to allow this to occur. And I couldn’t read a cogent answer and I don’t think the Supreme Court is in the position to provide them with one. That’s not their job. Their job is to look at the law and say, “Is this constitutional or not?”
Mr. Jekielek: So why do you think they actually took the case if it seems to be as clear cut as you’re suggesting?
Mr. Patel: I think sometimes they take these types of cases because they speak to a legal issue that is happening in lots of places. And if the Supreme Court can speak to it once, because that’s all they need to do. The United States Supreme Court just needs to speak to a legal issue one time. And then it’s the law.
I think they’re smart enough to know, instead of taking 7,000 cases across the board over the course of three years, let’s take this one issue, highlight it, adjudicate it, and then allow states to follow suit because we’ve written our legal opinion. And so, I think they’re smart when they make some of these selections for cases.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Kash I think we’re here at the end of the episode time for our shout-out.
Mr. Patel: So Jan, this week goes Korla Keller from Ord, Nebraska. I was actually in a Nebraska speaking at an event two weekends ago in front of about 500 people. And Korla Keller came up to me and started talking to us about Kash’s Corner in the middle of Nebraska. And then she submitted a comment on our webpage telling you and I how much she admires our show. And I just think it’s really cool that it came full circle, that I was in the middle of Nebraska. People are watching Kash’s Corner posting comments about it. So, this week shout out goes Korla Keller. Thanks for your support and we’ll see you next week.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, thanks a lot, Korla.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.