Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) requested on Tuesday that the NIH save any correspondence and papers from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the departing senior medical advisor to the White House.
Paul asked that all of Fauci’s records be kept for upcoming congressional investigations in a letter to interim NIH director Dr. Lawrence Tabak, with a focus on correspondence on coronavirus research supported by Fauci’s organization.
After announcing on Monday that he will retire from leading the NIAID in Dec., Fauci sent the letter.
Paul wrote, “I officially request that you guarantee the preservation of any records and correspondence in Dr. Fauci’s possession pertaining to his service at the NIH. This information is essential to make sure that Congress has access to the facts needed to perform adequate oversight of incidents that occurred during Dr. Fauci’s employment inside the agency,” the statement reads.
Paul asked that any paperwork, emails, digital files, and data “produced or exchanged with Dr. Fauci” over his over three-decade employment at the organization be kept. The Kentucky legislator stressed that the NIH should keep records of government financing for coronavirus research, including funds granted to EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit that subawarded NIH cash to the Virology institute in China to investigate bat coronaviruses.
Regardless of Dr. Fauci’s future job intentions, Paul said that “the American people need openness and responsibility from the NIH surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Paul and others have claimed that gain-of-function research carried out in China may be connected to the genesis of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to increased investigation of EcoHealth’s ties with the Wuhan facility. In well known congressional hearings where Paul repeatedly grilled Fauci on gain-of-function studies, the doctor denied any misconduct and accused Paul of “distorting” the truth to malign scientists.
Fauci, who announced on Monday that he will quit the administration but not retire, has spent the previous two years acting as the principal spokesperson for the White House on the COVID-19 epidemic.
Since the GOP is anticipated to recapture the U.S. House in the Nov. midterm elections and would conduct oversight hearings on Fauci’s tenure should they truly regain power, Republican legislators have indicated that the timing of Fauci’s resignation is fortuitous.
Paul’s request that NIH keep Fauci’s documents is just the latest sign that GOP senators would work to hold Fauci responsible for how he handled the outbreak, regardless of the results of the election.