Dr. Anthony Fauci must answer questions about the U.S. funding for a Chinese laboratory and other matters, former President Donald Trump said Thursday after thousands of 2020 emails to, from, and about Fauci were released this week.
“There are a lot of questions that must be answered by Dr. Fauci. The funding of Wuhan by the United States was foolishly started by the Obama Administration in 2014 but ended under the Trump Administration. When I heard about it, I said ‘no way.’ What did Dr. Fauci know about ‘gain of function’ research, and when did he know it?” Trump said in a statement through his Save America political action committee.
Fauci directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
In 2014, the agency gave a $3.7 million grant to Ecohealth Alliance to explore the risk of bat coronavirus emergence. A portion of the funds, about $600,000, went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a top-level lab in Wuhan, China.
The newly released emails show that Fauci and other top American health officials scrambled to respond to reporting about a possible link between COVID-19 and the lab. Fauci has repeatedly denied that the U.S. funding was for “gain of function” research but has acknowledged that Chinese scientists could have used the money for such research.
Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the grant did involve “gain of function” research, noting that the project’s abstract for the 2019 fiscal year referenced “in vitro and in vivo infection experiments” on coronaviruses. Other scientists also say the project involved such research.
The grant was terminated last year by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which Fauci’s agency is a part of.
Fauci told members of Congress last year that the NIH was told to cancel the grant. He told Politico that the White House ordered the cancellation.
Fauci was part of Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force. He was made a top White House medical adviser after President Joe Biden took office in January.
The NIAID has not responded to requests for comment. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday in Washington: “On Dr. Fauci and his emails, he’s spoken to this many times over the course of the last few days and we’ll let him speak for himself, and he’s been an undeniable asset in our country’s pandemic response. But it’s obviously not that advantageous for me to relitigate the substance of emails from 17 months ago.”
Fauci said during an appearance on NewsNation on Wednesday night that the emails are prone to being taken out of context.
“The only trouble is they are really ripe to be taken out of context where someone can snip out a sentence in an email without showing the other emails and say, ‘based on an email from Dr. Fauci, he said such-and-such,’ where you don’t really have the full context,” he said.
Some members of Congress want to question Fauci under oath about what he knew, and when, about the lab funding.
“I hope that he comes back in front of the select committee on coronavirus so we could ask him some pointed questions about what he knew when this whole thing started and he approved our tax dollars going to this, which raises the obvious question, why are we sending money to a lab in China in the first place?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said on Fox News.
Jordan and other top Republicans launched a congressional inquiry this week into the failure by the Department of Health and Human Services to review the grant that led to money going to the Wuhan lab.