A group of Republican senators released the full contents of an April 2020 email between the leader of a nonprofit group with close ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and Dr. Anthony Fauci that had previously been redacted.
The federal government previously said the redacted version of the email, released to the public as part of a BuzzFeed News Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, could have reasonably been expected to interfere with law enforcement proceedings.
EcoHealth Alliance President Daszak personally thanked Fauci in the email for his “brave” comments during a White House press briefing the day prior that the virus that causes COVID-19 did not exhibit features that point to lab manipulation.
The GOP senators revealed the previously redacted portion of the April 2020 email in a letter Thursday showing that Daszak had informed Fauci that he was fighting during the early stages of the pandemic to keep communications open with his Chinese colleagues at the Wuhan lab.
“It’s been a very hard few months as these conspiracy theorists have gradually become politicized and hardened in their stance. Especially because the work we’ve been doing in collaboration with Chinese virologists has given us incredible insight into the risks that these viruses represent, so that we can directly help protect our nation from bat-origin coronaviruses,” Daszak wrote to Fauci. “We’re fighting to keep the communications open with our Chinese colleagues, so that we can better address future pandemics like COVID-19.”
The National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, the subagency led by Fauci, provided $600,000 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology prior to the pandemic through a research grant with EcoHealth Alliance to study bat-based coronaviruses. Experts have previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the research grant described risky gain-of-function experiments, leading to widespread speculation that the Wuhan lab could be linked to the initial outbreak of COVID-19. (RELATED: US Grant To Wuhan Lab To Enhance Bat-Based Coronaviruses Was Never Scrutinized By HHS Review Board, NIH Says)
The GOP senators questioned in their letter why Daszak’s email was partially redacted when released to the public in early June, noting that the previously redacted portions contain no information that “could reasonably be expected to interfere with [law] enforcement proceedings.”
“This example calls into question [the Department of Homeland Security’s] redaction process not only for FOIA requests from the public but also for documents produced to Congress,” the senators wrote in their letter, which was addressed to Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan.
The Republican senators also noted that HHS refused to produce unredacted copies of all of Fauci’s emails that had been released to the public through FOIA request, despite the fact that they have the authority under federal law to request and review unredacted government records.
Investigative reporter Alison Young said the redactions on Daszak’s email to Fauci was a “troubling example of how federal agencies — regularly + increasingly with each administration — redact information from documents that the public has every right to see.”
Troubling example of how federal agencies — regularly + increasingly with each administration — redact information from documents that the public has every right to see. How legit are other redactions in Fauci’s emails? https://t.co/ChuanZyIth #FOIA #FOIAFriday h/t @thackerpd pic.twitter.com/OpCjtwoW03
— Alison Young (@alisonannyoung) July 30, 2021
“How legit are other redactions in Fauci’s emails?” Young added.
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