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Press Release Published: May 31, 2024

COVID Select Subcommittee Releases Dr. Fauci’s Transcript, Highlights Key Takeaways in New Memo

WASHINGTON — Today, Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) released the transcript from Dr. Anthony Fauci’s transcribed interview. Dr. Fauci served as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and was the face of America’s public health response during the COVID-19 pandemic. His closed door, 14-hour, two-day testimony in January 2024 has served as a critical component of the Select Subcommittee’s investigations into the origins of COVID-19, pandemic-era domestic policy failures, and improvements to the United States’ public health system. In conjunction with the transcript, the Select Subcommittee also released a new staff memo that highlights the key takeaways from Dr. Fauci’s transcribed interview. The memo can be found here.

The Select Subcommittee also released four additional transcripts from senior public health officials. These transcripts, as well as Dr. Fauci’s transcript, can be found below:

Below are important exchanges from Dr. Fauci’s transcribed interview:

SOCIAL DISTANCING: The “6 feet apart” social distancing recommendation forced on Americans by federal health officials was arbitrary and not based on science. Dr. Fauci testified that this guidance — which shut down schools and small businesses nationwide — “sort of just appeared” and was not based on any scientific studies.

Majority Counsel: “Do you recall when discussions regarding, kind of, the at least a 6 foot threshold began?

Dr. Fauci: “The 6 foot in the school?”

Majority Counsel: “Six foot overall.  I mean, 6-foot was applied at businesses—”

Dr. Fauci: “Yeah.”

Majority Counsel: “—it was applied in schools, it was applied here.  At least how the messaging was applied was that 6-foot distancing was the distance that needed to be—

Dr. Fauci: “You know, I don’t recall.  It sort of just appeared.  I don’t recall, like, a discussion of whether it should be 5 or 6 or whatever.  It was just that 6 foot is—”   

Majority Counsel: “Did you see any studies that supported 6 feet?

Dr. Fauci: “I was not aware of studies that in fact, that would be a very difficult study to do.

MASKING: Dr. Fauci testified that he did not recall any supporting evidence for masking children. Concerningly, mask-wearing has been associated with learning loss and severe speech development issues in America’s children.

Majority Counsel: “Do you recall reviewing any studies or data supporting masking for children?

Dr. Fauci: “You know, I might have, Mitch, but I don’t recall specifically that I did. I might have.

Majority Counsel: “Since the — there’s been a lot of studies that have come out since the pandemic started, but specifically on this there have been significant on kind of like the learning loss and speech and development issues that have been associated with particularly young children wearing masks while they’re growing up. They can’t see their teacher talk and can’t learn how to form words. Have you followed any of those studies?

Dr. Fauci: “No. But I believe that there are a lot of conflicting studies too, that there are those that say, yes, there is an impact, and there are those that say there’s not. I still think that’s up in the air.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: Dr. Fauci unequivocally agreed with EVERY travel restriction issued by the Trump Administration at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This testimony runs counter to the public narrative that the Trump Administration’s travel restrictions were xenophobic. During his transcribed interview, the Biden Administration’s counsel curiously prohibited Dr. Fauci from answering questions on whether he recommended the travel restrictions.

Majority Counsel: “Did you agree with President Trump’s decision to restrict travel from China?”                             

Dr. Fauci: “I did, and I said there were caveats to restrictions. I agreed with it, but I said we have to be careful because sometimes when you do restrictions they have negative consequences in that you don’t have open access to help or even information. But fundamentally, I agreed at that time, since we had almost no infections that we knew of in our country, that at least a temporary restriction would be important.

Majority Counsel: “Did you also agree with the EU travel restriction?

Dr. Fauci: “I agreed with the suggestion that that be done, yes.

Majority Counsel: “Did you agree with the U.K. travel restriction?

Dr. Fauci: “Yes, I did.

Majority Counsel: “Did you recommend instituting travel restrictions in response to the pandemic?

Biden Administration Official: “I’m going to step in here.”

VACCINE MANDATES: Dr. Fauci admitted that vaccine mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic could increase vaccine hesitancy in the future. He also claimed that these mandates were not sufficiently studied ahead of the pandemic. Previously, Dr. Fauci advocated “that when you make it difficult for people in their lives, they lose their ideological bullshit, and they get vaccinated.”

Majority Counsel: “Do you think mandating vaccines can result in some hesitancy?” 

Dr. Fauci: “I think one of the things that we really need to do after the fact, now, to — you know, after-the-game, after-the-event  evaluation of things that need to be done, we really need to take a look at the psyche of  the country, have maybe some social-type studies to figure out, does the mandating of vaccines in the way the country’s mental framework is right now, does that actually cause more people to not want to get vaccinated, or not? I don’t know. But I think that’s something we need to know.

LAB LEAK THEORY: Dr. Fauci acknowledged that the lab leak hypothesis is not a conspiracy theory. This comes nearly four years after prompting the publication of the now infamous “Proximal Origin” paper that attempted to vilify and disprove the lab leak hypothesis.

Majority Counsel: “Just you sitting here today, do you think the possibility or the hypothesis that the coronavirus emerged from a laboratory accident is a conspiracy theory?

Dr. Fauci: “Well, it’s a possibility. I think people have made conspiracy aspects from it.  And I think you have to separate the two when you keep an open mind, that it could be a lab leak or it could be a natural occurrence. I’ve mentioned in this committee that I believe the evidence that I’ve seen weighs my opinion towards one, which is a natural occurrence, but I still leave an open mind. So I think that in and of itself isn’t inherently a conspiracy theory, but some people spin off things from that that are kind of crazy.”

GAIN-OF-FUNCTION RESEARCH: Dr. Fauci repeatedly played semantics with the definition of “gain-of-function” research in an effort to avoid conceding that the NIH’s funded this dangerous research in China. As the head of NIAID and the face of America’s response to the pandemic, Dr. Fauci certainly understood the common definition of “gain-of-function.” Yet, he repeatedly refused — both behind closed doors and to Sen. Rand Paul during a 2021 hearing — to clarify a general understanding of the term and instead only referred to his own “operative definition.

Dr. Fauci: “So, when I, to repeat, when I’m asked is something gain of function, I’m referring to the operative definition of gain of function according to the framework of the 3PCO…That’s my definition. That is the regulatory operational definition. And as we were talking about before, other people use the word “gain of function” this, “gain of function” that, and everybody’s got their own interpretation of it.  But when you’re deciding whether a grant should be funded, this is the operational definition. And when I was asked anywhere by the Congress, by the Senate, by Senator Paul this is what I was referring to.” 

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Dr. Fauci claimed that his staff had no conflicts of interest regarding the origins of COVID-19, yet his Senior Advisor — Dr. David Morens — was “best-friends” with disgraced and soon-to-be debarred EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak. Considering Dr. Morens worked under Dr. Fauci’s leadership for more than 20 years, it seems highly unlikely that Dr. Fauci was genuinely unaware of this relationship.

Majority Counsel: “I was wondering if you had thoughts on whether Dr. Daszak should have filed competing interest statements when he was weighing in on these issues, whether through the National Academies or other venues.

Dr. Fauci: “You know, I hesitate to speculate about what someone else should do. The only people that I am involved with is my own staff, who we’ve mentioned many times in this discussion, who don’t have a conflict of interest.

GRANT APPROVAL: Dr. Fauci testified that he signed off on every foreign and domestic NIAID grant without reviewing the proposals. He was also unable to confirm if NIAID has ANY mechanisms to conduct oversight of the foreign laboratories they fund. NIAID’s flawed grant process — which relies heavily on trusting its grantees without verifying — leaves opportunities  for adversaries to exploit.

Majority Counsel: “Who gives the final approval?

Dr. Fauci: “You know, technically, I sign off on each council, but I don’t see the grants and what they are.  I never look at what grants are there.  It’s just somebody at the end of the council where they’re all finished and they go, ‘Here,’ and you sign it.”  

Majority Counsel: “Okay. So to your knowledge, NIAID wouldn’t kind of independently verify the biosafety of a foreign lab?

Dr. Fauci: “Again, I’d have to say I’m not sure.  To my knowledge, I wouldn’t be able to make a statement that I would be confident it would be.

Majority Counsel: “Do you know if NIAID grants go through any type of national security review as part of the process?

Dr. Fauci: “National security review?

Majority Counsel: “So, like, through the National Security Council or—

Dr. Fauci: “No.

Majority Counsel: “—or anyone in the [intelligence community]—

Dr. Fauci: “Not to my knowledge.”

Majority Counsel: “I guess what we’re trying to learn going forward is, obviously, U.S. labs are vetted, certified, and there’s a standard of how U.S. labs operate. Are foreign labs held to the same standard as U.S. labs when they receive U.S. money, or are they the standards of the country in which they operate?” 

Dr. Fauci: “I am not certain. I have heard again, I think it was subsequent to of course, that was never brought up.

Majority Counsel: “Uh huh.

Dr. Fauci: “When I was the director, no one ever asked me, you know, who determines, you know, what the standards of a foreign lab are. But so the answer to your question is I don’t know, okay?

FEIGNED IGNORANCE: Dr. Fauci claimed he “did not recall” numerous issues and events surrounding the pandemic more than 100 times. Specifically, Dr. Fauci testified that despite the fact EcoHealth Alliance was conducting risky gain-of-function research in China, he did not know any details about the grant, nor did he maintain a relationship with its President, Dr. Peter Daszak.

Majority Counsel: “Do you recall when you first found out that the year 5 progress report was missing from the EcoHealth grant?

Dr. Fauci: “I don’t recall precisely.  It was somewhere on a briefing that the staff gave to me.  I don’t know exactly when that was.  It could have been later.  I don’t know.

Majority Counsel: “Okay.  Do you think, just to the best of your recollection, whether it was before you were aware that the year 5 progress report was late before May 2021 or it would have been after?

Dr. Fauci: “I don’t recall.