dr Anthony Fauci said he couldn’t remember key details of his actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one of the officials who questioned him Nov. 23.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984 and senior medical adviser to President Joe Biden, was removed from office by Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmitt, both Republicans.
“It was literally amazing that we spent seven hours with Dr. Fauci – this is a man who single-handedly destroyed the US economy based on science follow science. And over the course of seven hours, we found that he can’t remember virtually anything related to his COVID response,” Landry told the Epoch Times after leaving the statement. “He just said, ‘I don’t remember, I didn’t see that. And I think we need to put these documents in context,'” added Landry.
“It was extremely disturbing to realize that this is a man who advises Presidents of the United States and yet can’t remember any information he gave out, any information he discussed, any press conferences he gave about the response on COVID-19,” Landry later added.
Fauci and NIAID did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Landry declined to provide further details about the deposit until it is made public, which will be at a later date. But he said officers could take some of what they learned to advance their case.
Landry and Schmitt sued the US government in May, alleging that it had violated people’s First Amendment rights by pressuring big tech companies to censor speech. Documents produced by the government in response backed up the claims. US District Judge Terry Doughty, the Trump-appointed officer overseeing the case, recently ordered Fauci and seven other officers to testify under oath about their knowledge of the censorship.
Doughty concluded that the plaintiffs demonstrated that Fauci “has personal knowledge of the social media censorship issue as it relates to COVID-19 and ancillary issues of COVID-19.”
While Fauci qualified as a senior official, the burden of his removal was outweighed by the court’s need for information before deciding on a request for a restraining order, Doughty said.
On Wednesday, Fauci testified for the first time under oath about his interactions with major tech companies, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Before testifying, Landry said in a statement, “We all deserve to know how much Dr. Fauci has been involved in censoring the American people during the COVID pandemic; I hope to find out tomorrow.”
“We will follow the evidence everywhere to find out exactly what happened, to get to the bottom of the fact that our government used private agencies to suppress American speech,” Landry told The Epoch Times.
Great Barrington Declaration
Jenin Younes of the New Civil Liberties Alliance, another attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, said Fauci claimed he wasn’t concerned about a document called the Great Barrington Declaration.
Written in October 2020, the document called for targeted protections for those most at risk from COVID-19, while lifting the strict restrictions placed on children and others at low risk by the disease. Two of its authors, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff are plaintiffs in the case.
“I have a very demanding job running a $6 billion institute. I don’t have time to worry about things like the Great Barrington Declaration,” Fauci said, according to Younes.
However, Fauci has spoken out about the declaration on numerous occasions.
In internal emails later released, both Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, Fauci’s former boss, the statement. “There must be rapid and devastating publicized destruction of his premises,” Collins wrote, prompting Fauci to send him a Wired magazine article that he claimed “debunks this theory.”
In another letter obtained by The Epoch Times through a Freedom of Information Act request, Fauci said the statement reminded him of AIDS denial.
Fauci also spoke publicly about the statement, including defending his criticisms during a congressional hearing in May.
“I have publicly spoken out very strongly against the Great Barrington Declaration,” Fauci wrote in another email to Dr. Deborah Birx.
The administration has attempted to block some of the statements, but not Fauci’s. It just received an order blocking testimony from Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the agency’s director of cybersecurity and infrastructure security, Jen Easterly, and Rob Flaherty, a deputy assistant to Biden.
Similar efforts to block testimony by former White House press secretary Jen Psaki and FBI agent Elvis Chan have been unsuccessful.
Chan is scheduled to answer questions next week. Psaki is scheduled to be deposed on December 8th.
Chan has been involved in communicating with Facebook, LinkedIn and other major tech companies about content moderation, according to evidence developed in the case and public statements he has made. Psaki said publicly while still in the White House that platforms should crack down on alleged misinformation and disinformation.
The plaintiffs have already deposed several officials, including Daniel Kimmage, an official with the State Department’s Global Engagement Center.
That center worked with Easterly’s agency to form a coalition of nonprofits called the Election Integrity Partnership, which urged social media companies to censor statements.
Kimmage has also been responsible for meetings where censorship was discussed, with State Department official Samaruddin Stewart acting according to documents provided by LinkedIn.
request for dismissal
Earlier Wednesday, the government ordered Doughty to drop the case, claiming the plaintiffs had failed to show government coercion against the companies.
Even when government officials “urged social media companies to do more to curb misinformation, any content moderation decisions made by social media companies ultimately stayed with those companies,” U.S. attorneys said.
“Even explicit requests or sharply worded requests see … (President Biden said failing to take action on misinformation will result in “people getting killed”), implausibly amounts to coercion,” the attorneys added.
Plaintiffs formulate a response to the application.
Both sides are also preparing briefs regarding the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision blocking testimony from Murthy, Easterly and Flaherty.
The Court of Appeals said Doughty did not adequately consider whether there were alternative means of obtaining the information desired, such as removing lower-level officials or obtaining written responses from higher-level officials.
Doughty ordered the plaintiffs to file a brief by November 29. The government has until December 2 to reply. Plaintiffs have until December 5 to respond to that response.