For a book that apparently tries to inflict so much damage on the legacy of former President Donald Trump, “Nightmare Scenario” could end up mortally wounding the sainted Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The book, written by Washington Post writers Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta, claims Trump wanted to send Americans infected with COVID-19 abroad in the early days of the virus to Guantánamo Bay. In another purported exchange, he supposedly said COVID testing was killing his re-election chances and asked former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar “[w]hat idiot had the federal government do testing?”
“Uh, do you mean Jared [Kushner]?” Azar supposedly responded, referring to the fact Trump had put his son-in-law in charge of testing.
When The Washington Post first reported on the book’s claims Monday, curiously missing was one allegation that didn’t involve screaming, cursing or moments of too-perfect confirmation bias straight out of a screenplay.
On Thursday, Fox News reported that Fauci resisted canceling a National Institute of Health grant to a group that was working with the Wuhan Institute of Virology on how coronaviruses jump from bats to humans — which, if the lab-leak scenario turns out to be true, could mean he refused to cancel funding for some of the same kind of research that ended up with SARS-CoV-2 spreading.
While the amount of the canceled grant was small — $369,819 of the $3.7 million given by the NIH to nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance — the bombshell revelation here is how dug in Fauci was when it came to keeping the funding spigot turned on for groups working with the WIV.
“With questions swirling about the origins of COVID-19 — experts had determined that the virus was not man-made but could not rule out that it might have slipped out of a lab — the NIH had gone to the principal study investigator on April 19 and asked that payments be halted to the subcontractor in Wuhan until it had more answers,” Abutaleb and Paletta wrote, according to Fox News.
“A few days later, the relatively small grant had garnered new attention … On the afternoon of April 24, NIH director Francis Collins and Fauci received notice that Trump wanted to formally announce in a 5:00 p.m. press conference that the grant had been terminated.”
However, neither was willing to terminate the grant.
“Collins and Fauci told the White House and [the Department of Health and Human Services] that they were not sure the NIH actually had the authority to terminate a peer-reviewed grant in the middle of a budget cycle,” they continued.
“The HHS general counsel told them to do it anyway and made clear it was a direct order from the president, implying that their jobs were on the line if they didn’t comply. Fauci and Collins reluctantly agreed to cancel the grant.”
That’s very quaint — the idea that America was shutting down over COVID-19, partially at Fauci’s urging, but that he didn’t think that “peer-reviewed grant” could be terminated “in the middle of a budget cycle.”
Not only that, other scientists were infuriated that Fauci didn’t continue refusing, with HIV/AIDS activist Peter Staley criticizing him for the decision.
“What do you mean?” Staley said, according to the authors. “You can’t cancel a grant like this.”
“What do you want me to do?” Fauci responded.
“Can’t you and Collins threaten to resign over this?” Staley said.
“You want us both to resign over a $3.7 million grant?” Fauci hit back.
Not only that, “Collins and Fauci heard from many members of the scientific community that they should have resigned. The HHS general counsel later found that the agency probably had not had the authority to terminate the grant. NIH had to reinstate the grant but stopped all of its funding.”
Staley thought this was an example of Fauci being bullied by Trump.
“You combine this with what happened with your Oval Office remdesivir announcement — and I know this doesn’t matter to the country. We’re not talking about Trump and politics and Fox and the whole country. We’re talking about the fact that you are now our leader in AIDS, in public health advocacy,” the authors say Staley told Fauci in a manner where “his voice [was] rising with emotion.”
“In the scientific community, you are our leader. And in the course of forty-eight hours, you have broken two major tenets of how the scientific community does things. We have these rules for a reason, which you’ve been a major defender of your whole life.”
Play me the world’s tiniest, most socially distanced violin.
Furthermore, when he went before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in June of 2020, he claimed ignorance as to why the grant was canceled.
“Why was it canceled? It was canceled because the NIH was told to cancel it,” Fauci said. “I don’t know the reason, but we were told to cancel it.”
It was canceled because we don’t know what role the Wuhan Institute of Virology played in the virus, if any, and the Chinese government hasn’t been forthcoming. That’s as good a reason as any. Even if Fauci didn’t know the WIV wasn’t conducting so-called “gain of function” research — where the virus is genetically modified so that it becomes more virulent or transmissible, which he’s claimed he didn’t — the sainted head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Now, we know the scientific community’s objections to the lab-leak theory were entirely based on who was in the White House, not the plausibility of it. If this revelation is true, it means that the NIH could have funded the research that led to the coronavirus being leaked. The Washington Post didn’t feel free to mention this to the reader, however.
But please, let’s talk about the alleged “[w]hat idiot had the federal government do testing?” quote. That’s far more newsworthy to the Post, apparently, even though this means the U.S. government might have paid for a dangerous experiment to pay to release the virus. Now, nobody’s being transparent, including Fauci — a bombshell indeed, and much more interesting than a poorly sourced fight between Azar and the president.
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This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.