EXCLUSIVE: Heritage Foundation Sues CIA For Refusing To Hand Over Covid Records

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James Lynch Contributor
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The conservative Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project is suing the CIA for records related to its investigation of COVID-19’s origins, the Daily Caller has learned.

Heritage’s Oversight Project filed a lawsuit Friday against the CIA after the agency did not comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records connected to its team tasked with investigating the lab leak theory, which posits that COVID-19 was created in and escaped from a laboratory rather than being transmitted to humans by animals. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Heritage Foundation Presses FBI On Tactics Used To Fight Records Requests)


“This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act (‘FOIA’), 5 U.S.C. § 552, to compel production of CIA records relating to allegations that members of the CIA’s COVID Discovery Team, a group of employees tasked with analyzing the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, received monetary incentives to change their position on the origins of the virus,” the complaint begins.

Heritage is suing the CIA in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and its lawsuit lays out five claims of relief against the CIA.

Heritage’s original FOIA request sought records from the creation of the discovery team and all records shared among team members associated with COVID-19’s origins. In addition, the conservative group demanded records of any financial bonuses and communications between discovery team members and officials from numerous agencies across the federal government.

The lawsuit asks the court to compel the CIA to produce all non-exempt records under Heritage’s prior FOIA request and to cover Heritage’s costs incurred.

In September, a whistleblower came forward to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic alleging the CIA provided financial rewards to six agents on the COVID discovery team to change their position and come out against the possibility of the virus originating in a lab in Wuhan, China.

Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rick Scott of Florida and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin wrote a letter on Sept. 12 to CIA Director William Burns requesting information on the whistleblower allegations.

Assessments from the FBI and Department of Energy have concluded that COVID-19 most likely came from a lab in Wuhan where bat coronaviruses were being researched. (RELATED: Former HHS Official Who Worked With Fauci To Downplay Lab Leak Reveals Theory On COVID Origins)

The COVID subcommittee published a report in July accusing former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci of facilitating a campaign to cast doubt on the lab leak theory.

New evidence released in March by the subcommittee indicates Fauci was behind an influential paper designed to discredit lab leak proponents. The CIA also brought Fauci into its headquarters to “influence” its lab leak investigation without keeping records of Fauci’s entry, the subcommittee alleged in September.

Fauci is set to testify before the committee in January over a two-day period.