by Steven Hall
The Department of Health and Human Services delivered 311 pages of heavily redacted emails Dr. Anthony Fauci and the World Health Organization and other documents regarding COVID-19 to Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation, according to a press release Tuesday.
The redacted documents included personal edits from Fauci on COVID-related funding measures, which were redacted under a trade secrets exemption, Judicial Watch said in the press release.
“The American people have every right to know key information on our government’s role in Covid,” DCNF President Neil Patel said in the statement Tuesday. “This sort of hiding, dodging and stonewalling is one reason why trust in national authorities is near all-time lows.”
FOIA Exemption 4 allows the government from disclosing details relating to trade secrets, commercial or financial information that is “privileged and confidential,” said HHS Freedom of Information Act Officer Gorka Garcia-Malene told Judicial Watch in a letter accompanying the records.
HHS is also allowed under FOIA Exemption 5 to withhold internal records that are “predecisional and contain staff advice, opinion, and recommendations,” said Garcia-Malene.
“Fauci’s agency is in stonewall mode – and has granted the corrupted WHO a special secrecy exemption from FOIA,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, according to the press release.
HHS has repeatedly attempted to delay the record’s release and has argued in favor of releasing the records beginning on November 30, 2020.
The DCNF filed a FOIA request in March 2020 asking for communications between Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Deputy Director Clifford Lane and WHO officials about coronavirus. The DCNF requested all relevant records between January 1, 2020, and April 1, 2020.
Judicial Watch filed a federal lawsuit in May 2020 over the release of the records on behalf of DCNF.
“The FOIA request at issue here concerns records that are likely to shed light on the China and WHO disinformation campaign on coronavirus — the stonewall seems calculated to undermine [President Donald Trump] and protect WHO and China,” Fitton said in October 2020.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter Thursday to National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and Fauci demanding answers over an EcoHealth Alliance grant, which sent the taxpayer funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2014.
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