Anthony S. Fauci’s appearances before congressional committees have been marked by rising irritation on the part of the nation’s top infectious-disease expert — notably when confronted with conspiratorial questions from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). However, the most heated debate on Tuesday was between Paul and one of his colleagues, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), whom Fauci quickly dubbed a “moron.”
What was most remarkable about it was Marshall’s apparent inability to articulate exactly what he was asking. Marshall raised the possibility that Fauci had not shared financial disclosures with the public as other government officials had, and after Fauci informed him that he had and that they were accessible, Marshall proceeded discussing it as if Fauci had given his assumption.
MARSHALL: Yes or no, would you be willing to submit to Congress and the public a financial disclosure that includes your past and current investments? After all, your colleague, [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle] Walensky and every member of Congress submits a financial disclosure that includes their investments.
FAUCI: I don’t understand why you’re asking me that question. My financial disclosure is public knowledge and has been so for the last 37 years or so, 35 years.
Marshall contended at this point — without elaborating — that “Big Tech” was somehow obstructing the disclosure of Fauci’s investments:
MARSHALL: The Big Tech giants are doing an incredible job of keeping it from being public. We’ll continue to look for it. Where would we find it?
FAUCI: All you have to do is ask for it. You’re so misinformed. It’s extraordinary. All you have to do is ask for it.
Marshall continued discussing it as if there were some kind of conspiracy at work:
MARSHALL: This is a huge issue. Wouldn’t you agree with me that you see things before members of Congress would see them —FAUCI: What?MARSHALL: — So that there’s an air of appearance that maybe some shenanigans are going on. You know, I don’t think that that’s — I assume that’s not the case.FAUCI: Senator, what are you talking about?MARSHALL: I assume it’s not the case.FAUCI: My financial disclosures are public knowledge, and have been so. You are getting amazingly wrong information.MARSHALL: So, what — I cannot find them. Our office cannot find them. Where would they be, if they’re public knowledge?CHAIRWOMAN PATTY MURRAY (D-WASH.): Senator?MARSHALL: Where?FAUCI: It is totally accessible to you, if you want it.MARSHALL: For the public? Is that accessible to the public?FAUCI: To the public.MARSHALL: Okay.FAUCI: To the public. You are totally incorrect.MARSHALL: We look forward to reviewing it.
Fauci’s hot-mic statement came soon thereafter. “What a moron,” Fauci exclaimed, adding, “Jesus Christ.”
Marshall made absolutely no attempt to explain his line of questions at the time. However, it seems to derive from a recent campaign by the conservative legal organization Judicial Watch to get expanded disclosures about Fauci’s records regarding alleged conflicts of interest and other things.
What Marshall expressly requested – financial disclosures that include investments — is something Fauci, like many other government officials, is required to report and has done. Following the conversation, several individuals linked to the very public record of Fauci’s 2020 financial report, which includes a list of his interests.
However, Fauci’s 2021 paper is not widely accessible — and it is one of the documents Judicial Watch has requested. According to an organization participating in the lawsuit, a court ordered the disclosures sought to begin on Feb. 1.
Marshall’s spokeswoman Wednesday morning said that “Fauci’s financial disclosures for the years of the covid pandemic are not public” because “one has to file a [Freedom of Information Act request] to get them and then wait an undetermined length of time and then they get something that is heavily redacted.”
On Tuesday afternoon, a spokesman for the National Institutes of Health said that she would investigate whether Fauci’s financial disclosure information was accessible to the public via a Freedom of Information Act request or other ways and would react as soon as feasible.
NIH spokeswoman Renate Myles said, “Dr. Fauci and all directors of NIH institutes and centers are public report filers due to the responsibilities of their positions. Public financial disclosure reports are releasable through the Ethics in Government Act, not through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Dr. Fauci’s public financial disclosure reports are available from the OD FOIA Office by submission of OGE Form 201 request, as described on the NIH FOIA portal website.”
The campaign is a continuation of a long-running but sometimes feeble effort to prove that Fauci gained financially from the outbreak. This included repeated assertions this summer that he was benefitting from an impending book on pandemic response. It was discovered that Fauci was not receiving royalties from the book.
To infer that Fauci benefitted from the pandemic in some unknown manner, however, would imply that he made fresh, unreported investments at the outbreak’s outset — after December 2019. There has been much examination of several senators’ strategically timed stock moves during the pandemic’s early stages, while there is no proof that Fauci did so.
This seems to be a consequence of the government’s often delayed reaction to transparency requests, rather than anything Fauci did. After all, the same reporter who revealed the 2020 Fauci disclosure she got noted that it took 212 months to get a response – a time period that is not unusual for such requests.
There is still no proof that Fauci personally withheld his financial statements or that “Big Tech” — rather than government bureaucracy — is to blame for their not being publicly available.