Judge rejects HHS effort to stall release of Fauci emails until after election

WASHINGTON, DC – Judicial Watch announced today that a federal judge ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to begin producing communications and other records of National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci and Deputy Director H. Clifford Lane about the World Health Organization (WHO), China, and the coronavirus.

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on September 22 ordered HHS to begin producing 300 pages of potentially responsive records per month beginning on October 21. In a September 21 court filing, HHS said the agency could begin producing 300 pages of responsive records to the Daily Caller News Foundation beginning on November 30, eight months after receiving the Daily Caller’s request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The total number of responsive records is approximately 4200, which would push off the full release of the records until at least 2022.  HHS also alleged that Fauci must personally review each one of his emails before they are released. 

The judge’s order came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Judicial Watch on behalf of the Daily Caller News Foundation (Daily Caller News Foundation v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(No. 1:20-cv-01149)). 

The lawsuit was filed after HHS failed to respond to an April 1, 2020, FOIA request seeking:

  • Communications between Dr. Fauci and Deputy Director Lane and World Health Organization officials concerning the novel coronavirus.
  • Communications of Dr. Fauci and Deputy Director Lane concerning WHO, WHO official Bruce Aylward, WHO Director General Tedros Anhanom, and China.

The time period for the request is January 1, 2020 to April 1, 2020.

“People have every right under the law to see the communications between our government agencies (including Dr. Fauci), China and the WHO at the outset of this pandemic that has killed so many Americans and destroyed our economy,” said Daily Caller News Foundation President Neil Patel. “We are happy that Judge Friedrich agreed with our position that the government should not be able to keep this information secret. However, the fact that the document production doesn’t have to start until over six months after our lawful request — and that the production will not finish until 2022, is a sad joke. It’s amazing people still wonder why the American people have lost trust in our national institutions.” 

“NIH seems to be playing politics with the Fauci emails. 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 Trump and protect WHO and China,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

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