House Panel Subpoenas Top Fauci Adviser to Appear and Answer COVID Questions

U.S. National Institutes of Health official has been stonewalling lawmakers, panel chairman says.
House Panel Subpoenas Top Fauci Adviser to Appear and Answer COVID Questions
File images show Dr. Anthony Fauci, left, and Dr. David Morens. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images; NIAID via The Epoch Times)
Zachary Stieber

The U.S. House of Representatives panel investigating COVID-19 subpoenaed a longtime adviser to Dr. Anthony Fauci on May 8 to force the official to appear and answer questions after internal emails showed that he communicated regularly with a scientist who helped funnel U.S. taxpayer money to a Chinese laboratory.

The subpoena from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic orders Dr. David Morens to appear in a public hearing on May 22.

Lawmakers repeatedly tried negotiating a voluntary appearance from Dr. Morens, senior adviser to the director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), but his representatives said he would be available on only four dates.

None of those dates worked, and attempts to secure his testimony on another date failed, prompting the subpoena, according to Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee.

Dr. Morens, who is close with former NIAID head Dr. Fauci and Peter Daszak, head of the EcoHealth Alliance nonprofit that funneled NIAID money to a lab in Wuhan, did not respond to a request for comment.

Dr. Fauci is scheduled to testify to the subcommittee on June 3 in what will be his first public hearing since he stepped away from the government in late 2022.

Emails released by EcoHealth in April showed that Dr. Morens used his personal email to interact with Mr. Daszak, including one message sent after he said that he would delete messages he didn’t want outsiders to obtain through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Another missive acquired by the panel showed that on April 20, Mr. Daszak told a group of scientists that “each day of delay helps.”

“They’re trying to book David in for a public hearing between mine (May 1st) and Fauci’s (June 3rd). David’s lawyers are trying to negotiate and delay his till after Tony,” Mr. Daszak said.

Two days later, Mr. Daszak’s attorney followed that plan by refusing two separate dates proposed by lawmakers, Dr. Wenstrup said.

The attempt to put off testifying “appears to be a poorly veiled attempt to protect Dr. Fauci, insulate him from the actions the select subcommittee is investigating, and obstruct the select subcommittee’s investigation,” he said in a letter to Dr. Morens.

“Accordingly, your actions have left us no choice but to compel your testimony,” he wrote.

Dr. Morens will now appear in public before Dr. Fauci, unless the schedule changes.

Mr. Daszak answered questions before the panel on May 1. He told lawmakers that he actually wasn’t sure whether risky experiments his group proposed dubbed DEFUSE were carried out in China.
EcoHealth separately funneled more than $1 million from NIAID to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, starting in 2014, to study bat coronaviruses. Both NIAID and EcoHealth failed to adequately monitor the research, which resulted at one point in a more virulent coronavirus, according to a government watchdog. NIAID’s parent agency, the National Institutes of Health, has since suspended funding to the institute for 10 years.


Dr. Morens has interacted regularly with Mr. Daszak over the years, emails obtained by the panel and through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show.

Dr. Morens’s 2022 email that said he preferred to communicate over his personal address because he was “FOIA'd constantly” was sent to Mr. Daszak, who sent multiple messages to Dr. Morens’s personal address before and after the request.

In 2020, Dr. Morens lamented that the grant responsible for money being sent to Wuhan was paused over concerns with the research.

“Tony is now fully aware of this and is I am told involved in some sort of damage control,” Dr. Morens wrote to Mr. Daszak at the time.

“There are things I can’t say except that Tony is aware and I have learned there are ongoing efforts within NIH to steer through this with minimal damage to you,” he said in another missive.

The grant was later restored.

“Peter Daszak is one of my oldest and best friends, and I talk to him all the time,” Dr. Morens told the subcommittee in a private hearing in January. Mr. Daszak told the subcommittee that Dr. Morens was one of his mentors.

Dr. Morens said he directed Mr. Daszak to use his personal email because a FOIA request brought back an email from Mr. Daszak to Dr. Morens that included personal details.

“I said, ‘You’re not supposed to be sending personal stuff to my government e-mail, send it to my Gmail.’ He finally listened and started doing that,” Dr. Morens said.

Like Dr. Fauci and Mr. Daszak, Dr. Morens favors the idea that the virus that causes COVID-19 originated in nature and spread to humans from there, rather than being the product of experiments at the Wuhan lab that was funded in part by the U.S. government.

He recounted telling Dr. Fauci in early 2020 that he concluded, after talking to “all the top scientists, that this virus originated in bats and that it was unlikely it would be a lab leak or an engineered virus.”

Dr. Morens said in support of his stance that safety regulations are so burdensome that it would be “very unlikely” that the virus that causes COVID-19 came from the Wuhan lab.

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]