The lab origin of SARS-CoV-2 was published in 2015.
A stunning form of this deception by omission is when public officials, scientists, and the media pretend not to notice extremely harmful and even criminal conduct that is detectable for anyone who bothers to look. Public officials and news reporters have no excuse for not looking because it’s their job to look. Their omissions are analogous to a police investigator choosing not to look at a video surveillance recording of a bank that has just been robbed by a man not wearing a mask. Those who have committed dangerous and even criminal acts are, in this way, allowed to hide in plain sight.
A striking example is the histrionic debate over whether NIH grant recipients conducted Gain-of-Function research on bat coronaviruses. The pinnacle of such theater were the jousting matches between Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci at Senate Health Committee hearings, at which Dr. Fauci vehemently insisted his agency did NOT fund Gain-of-Function research on bat coronaviruses. Apart from Senator Paul, few in the Senate, and few if any in the mainstream media, questioned Dr. Fauci’s assertions.
And yet, to see that the NIH was, in fact, funding Gain-of-Function research of bat coronaviruses, all one has to do is read the 2015 paper titled A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence by Veneet Menachery, Zhengli-Li Shi, Ralph Baric, et al. This study plainly states that the authors conducted Gain-of-Function research on bat coronaviruses in order to make them infectious to primary human airway epithelial cells.
Dr. Zhengli-Li Shi, AKA “Bat Woman” and collaborator with Dr. Ralph Baric
Towards the end of the paper, the reader comes to the following section:
Biosafety and Biosecurity.
Reported studies were initiated after the University of North Carolina Institutional Biosafety Committee approved the experimental protocol (Project Title: Generating infectious clones of bat SARS-like CoVs; Lab Safety Plan ID: 20145741; Schedule G ID: 12279). These studies were initiated before the US Government Deliberative Process Research Funding Pause on Selected Gain-of-Function Research Involving Influenza, MERS and SARS Viruses (http://www.phe.gov/s3/dualuse/Documents/gain-of-function.pdf). This paper has been reviewed by the funding agency, the NIH. Continuation of these studies was requested, and this has been approved by the NIH.
The reader will note that the reason for pausing Gain-of-Function research was the determination that its risks outweighed its potential benefit. The legalistic assertion that this particular Gain-of-Function research was authorized to continue flies in the face of the risk assessment. Such research was, in 2014, deemed to be too dangerous for mankind, and in fact (as we now know) it was too dangerous. That Professor Baric’s research was approved before the negative risk assessment was made is immaterial.
As the 2015 paper and other documents show that Ralph Baric and his Chinese colleague, Zhengli-Li Shi, were indeed engineering SARS-like bat coronaviruses in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in order to make them highly infectious among humans. Today we learn that Dr. Andrew Huff, former EcoHealth Alliance vice president and scientist, has just published a book titled The Truth about Wuhan: How I Uncovered the Biggest Lie in History.
We welcome Dr. Huff’s report, though we suspect that he won’t reveal anything anything we don’t already know.
Dr. Anthony Fauci couldn’t cite any studies that changed his mind about masking against COVID-19 during a recent deposition, according to lawyers who were in the room.
Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director, was among the U.S. officials repeatedly urging people to not wear a mask early in the COVID-19 pandemic unless they were showing symptoms. Among his many public and private statements, he wrote in a Feb. 5, 2020, email that “the typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.”
About two months later, Fauci and other top officials reversed course and issued widespread masking recommendations, regardless of symptoms.
Asked about the change while under oath on Nov. 23, Fauci couldn’t provide any studies, according to lawyers representing plaintiffs in a case against the federal government.
“He was asked what studies or study changed his mind in that interim, which is what he claimed—he claimed that it was studied. He couldn’t name any,” Jenin Younes, one of the lawyers, told The Epoch Times.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican who was also present during the deposition in Maryland, said on social media that Fauci “couldn’t cite a single study” to back up his claim that masks were effective against COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the change in masking advice on April 3, 2020, leading to widespread mask mandates. Officials, including then-CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, said studies indicating asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 led to the change. They cited zero studies on mask effectiveness. Many studies on masks don’t support their usage, including a CDC study widely cited by top officials, researchers have found.
During an appearance that day on PBS, Fauci promoted the change, saying it was based on data regarding asymptomatic transmission.
Fauci hasn’t appeared to cite any studies since in his repeated calls for people to wear a mask.
Fauci told Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in an interview in mid-2020 that the original recommendation to not wear a mask was because of mask shortages.
“Two things happened. One, it became clear that we had enough of the equipment, so there was no shortage. It became clear that cloth coverings—that you didn’t have to buy in a store, that you could make yourself—were adequate. And third—and probably the most compelling thing—is when it became very clear that anywhere from 20 to 45 percent of people who were infected, didn’t have any symptoms,” he said.
“So the risk of your being in contact with someone who said, ‘Well, you look good, I look good, we’re not infected’ was not the case, that you could be spreading it asymptomatically. You put all of those things together, which had us evolve from saying maybe we should hold off on masks because we needed them for the health care workers to saying now everybody should be wearing a mask when they’re outside and should be trying to distance. That’s one example of evolving as you get more data and you get more information.”
Fauci and NIAID didn’t respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment on the deposition.
The questioning took place on orders from the U.S. judge overseeing the case, which Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, another Republican, brought against the federal government and a slew of officials for allegedly colluding with Big Tech firms to illegally censor users.
Fauci wasn’t asked about the deposition during interviews that aired on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Nov. 27.
A transcript of the deposition is expected to be made public at a later date.
FBI official Elvis Chan and former White House press secretary Jen Psaki are scheduled to be deposed next in the case.
Made Court Reporter Wear Mask
Fauci sat for the deposition at the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. NIH is the parent agency of NIAID, which Fauci is preparing to leave by the end of the year. The questioning lasted for about seven hours.
Fauci didn’t wear a mask and neither did anybody else when the deposition started, Younes, a lawyer with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, told The Epoch Times.
The woman transcribing the questioning, the court reporter, was sniffling. Fauci asked the woman if she had a cold. She responded that she had allergies.
“About 15 minutes later, he asked her to put on a mask and said that he was uncomfortable, ‘and the last thing in the world I want right now is to get COVID,’” Younes said. “So she had to wear a mask the whole time, the whole rest of the time.”
“Social distancing” is nothing but China-style assault on everything we once held dear.
The transcript is not yet available and no reporters were allowed. But from the Attorneys General who brought the suit, the plaintiffs in the case and their attorney, and other parties to the lawsuit against the Biden administration, we have some information about the deposition provided by Anthony “I am the Science” Fauci. He has been the face of the pandemic response and stands accused of colluding with Big Tech to suppress dissent in violation of the First Amendment.
The question of whether the deposition was to be public was itself the subject of legal attention. The Department of Justice filed to block all recording and personally identifiable information for fear of public harassment, and this condition was granted. As a result, we have no transcript (yet) and one senses a great skittishness even from those who were there to explain the fullness of what transpired. Major national media have shown no interest in getting the story.
Nonetheless, we do have information thanks to some candid tweets and an article by one of the plaintiffs. The main takeaway is that Fauci has come down with a serious case of amnesia. Over seven hours, reported Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, he mostly stonewalled detailed questioning by answering that he has no clear memory of details that would shed light on his involvement in speech suppression.
“Wow! It was amazing to spend 7 hours with Dr. Fauci. The man who single-handedly wrecked the U.S. economy based upon ‘the science.’ Only to discover that he can’t recall practically anything dealing with his Covid response!”
This is despite the hundreds of pages and many public statements that seem to confirm that the White House and many government agencies worked very closely with Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others, to control the narrative for the better part of two years. And these efforts are probably ongoing.
Eric Schmitt, the Attorney General of Missouri and now Senator-Elect, bought the suit along with the Attorney General of Louisiana. Schmitt tweeted “some takeaways from the deposition of Fauci: Fauci knew the Lab Leak theory had merit but it’d come back to him & sought to immediately discredit it; He defended lockdowns; The rest of us ‘don’t have the ability’ to determine what’s best for ourselves.”
In addition, he wrote: “In the Fauci depo this week the court reporter sneezed. Fauci wanted her to wear a mask. This is the mentality in Nov 2022 of the guy who locked down our country & ruined countless lives & livelihoods.The Experts followed suit. Dissent was censored. In America. Never Again.”
Plaintiff Aaron Kheritary, Brownstone Senior Scholar and Fellow, explains as follows:
UPDATE: from our deposition of Fauci yesterday in the MO v. Biden case. Fauci confirmed that in Feb 2020, Fauci sent Clifford Lane, his deputy at the NAIAD, as the U.S. representative for the WHO delegation to China. Lane convinced Fauci we should emulate China’s lockdowns.
The CCP had announced China had contained the virus through draconian lockdowns–a claim now known to be false. Given the (sic) China’s pattern of falsified information, Lane and Fauci should have approached this claim with skepticism. Lockdowns were wholly untested & unprecedented.
As our lawyer, @Leftylockdowns1 put it, Fauci “was apparently willing to base his lockdown advocacy on the observations of a single guy relying on reports from a dictator.” Not exactly a double-blind randomized trial level of evidence, or indeed, any level of evidence.
Days after Lane returned, WHO published its report praising China’s strategy: “China’s uncompromising and rigorous use of non-pharmaceutical measures [lockdowns] to contain transmission of the COVID-19 virus in multiple settings provides vital lessons for the global response.
“This rather unique and unprecedented public health response in China reversed the escalating cases,” the report claimed. My colleague @jeffreyatucker at the @brownstoneinst gave a tongue-in-cheek gloss of WHO’s misty eyed report: “I’ve seen the future—and it is Wuhan.”
Lockdowns quickly spread from China to the West, as a troubling number of Western apologists besides the WHO also looked to the Chinese Communist Party’s covid response for guidance.
The U.S. & U.K. followed Italy’s lockdown, which had followed China, and all but a handful of countries around the globe immediately followed our lead. Within weeks the whole world was locked down.
From the very beginning, the evidential basis for this global policy catastrophe was always paper-thin. We are now living in the aftermath.
John Sauer, “And Mr. Lane, after returning from the trip, said the Chinese were managing this in a very structured, organized way; correct?… Did you discuss Mr. Lane’s experience on the trip with him when he got back from the WHO trip?”
Dr. Fauci, ” The answer is I did… Dr. Lane was very impressed about how from a clinical public health standpoint, the Chinese were handling the isolation, the contact tracing, the building of facilities to take care of people, and that’s what I believed he meant when he said [they] were managing this in a very structured organized way.”
Sauer: “So he drew the conclusion that there might have to be extreme, in his word, measures to mandate social distancing to bring the outbreak under control; correct?”
Fauci: “That’s what this is implying, yes… He did discuss with me that the Chinese 19 had a very organized way of trying to contain the spread in Wuhan and elsewhere. He didn’t get a chance to go to Wuhan, but he was in Beijing, and I believe other cities — at least Beijing — and he mentioned that they had a very organized, well regimented way of handling the outbreak.
Sauer: “And so he had a kind of positive reaction to that. There might be lessons to be learned for the United States in its response to the outbreak?”
Fauci: “I believe Dr. Lane came to the conclusion that when you have a widespread respiratory disease that a very common and effective way to curtail the rapid spread of the disease is by implementing social distancing measures… Dr. Lane is a very astute clinician, and I have every reason to believe that his evaluation of the situation was accurate and correct.”
Just to be clear, Fauci has here described a policy response that included welding shut the doors to people’s apartments and full totalitarian controls on movement as a “very organized” and “well regimented” implementation of “social distancing measures.”
Fauci is a skillful liar. As we have seen now for months in his public comments, he lies when he feels he can get away with it or when he feels there will be no meaningful consequences.
Fauci frequently lied unless and until he was confronted with alternate facts. For example, he claimed he really wasn’t familiar with Ralph Baric (creator of the COVID virus) or Peter Daszak (who brokered Fauci’s NIAID grant money to the Chinese biolab in Wuhan), until he was confronted with evidence that his own chief of staff emailed him describing Daszak and Baric as being part of Fauci’s team!
Fauci claimed that he had no knowledge that his communications team did not coordinate with social media companies to stop “misinformation and disinformation” until he was forced to admit that he actually did know of certain instances of coordination.
Fauci continued to push the now-debunked assertion that COVID-19 was a naturally occurring virus.
Fauci said disinformation and misinformation (information he disagrees with) puts lives at risk.
Fauci refused to define “gain of function” research saying it was too broad of a term to define.
FUN FACT: until VERY recently, Fauci’s daughter worked for Twitter.
FUN FACT: Fauci is a hypochondriac. In a bizarre and stunning segment during the deposition, Fauci blew off some of his frustration on the poor court reporter. The court reporter transcribing the deposition sneezed, and Fauci stopped the deposition and scolded the court reporter: “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU??? Do you have some sort of respiratory illness, because in the era of COVID, I’m concerned about being near you.” Court Reporter: “I’m not sick, I just have allergies. I can wear a mask though.” Fauci: “Ok. Thank you, because the last thing I want is to get COVID. [notably, (1) Fauci himself did not wear a mask at any point during the deposition, and (2) he appeared to be several feet away from the court reporter].
FUN FACT: in another Fauci hypochondria spasm, Fauci conspicuously mean-mugged Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry after Landry sneezed into his suit coat jacket.
Gamesmanship. Whenever introduced to a difficult topic, he dishonestly refused to define key terms so he could avoid being pinned down and held accountable. For example, when discussing the topic of “gain of function” research, he refused to acknowledge what the term meant, objecting that it was a term so broad it could not be defined.
Fauci repeatedly claimed that he “couldn’t recall” or “couldn’t remember,” and attempted to bolster these incredible statements by appealing to the volume of emails he would receive or issues or studies that would come across his desk. This is simply not credible for nearly all of such statements, because the incidents in question were either recent or within the past three years, and they were all highly politically charged.
Fauci’s other method of lying was simply to pretend that he didn’t understand something, and then hope the lawyer asking the question wouldn’t be able to catch him in the lie. For example, he very obviously lied at one point when he claimed he didn’t know what Meta (parent company of Facebook) was, until he was forced to admit that he did, in fact, know what Meta was.
Another Fauci tactic: when forced to admit he had made a communication or reviewed a key record at a key time, or knew or worked with a key individual, he would try and downplay each negative fact by (1) downplaying the significance of the communication, (2) suggest that while he reviewed the key record, he didn’t really read it carefully, or (3) with false humility suggest that he was not an expert in X field and so did not fully understand the scientific study at issue, or (4) claim that, while he did “know” said individual, he doesn’t really know them that well because he meets so many doctors and scientists as part of his job.
Other Fauci deceit tactics: throwing subordinates under the bus. Fauci is a famous survivor among bureaucrats. One way he has survived this long is by only taking credit for wins and pawning off losses on hapless subordinates. This trend continued in his deposition, in which he brazenly argued that, while he is the head of the NIAID and its $6 billion budget, he repeatedly didn’t have any knowledge about what his immediate direct reports were doing right under his nose. Fauci supports accountability, so long as he has a subordinate to sacrifice.
Fauci argued that Hydroxychloroquine was “dangerous” and had “toxic” side effects…. Fauci claimed HCQ was ineffective in treating COVID, but couldn’t cite a single study to support his claim. Fauci also rejected the list of 371 studies on HCQ and its effectiveness in treating the disease when he was presented with the list.
Fauci admitted lying to the public. In one of the more amazing segments during his deposition, Fauci admitted that he knowingly made false public health statements at the beginning of the pandemic, advising people against using masks in order to discourage the public from depleting the supply of masks.
Fauci admitted he got his ideas of a lockdown from the Communist Chinese who implemented their extreme lockdowns in January 2020.
Jenin Younes, attorney for the plaintiffs who works with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, wrote on Twitter: “One of my favorite quotes from Fauci’s deposition today: “I have a very busy day job running a six billion dollar institute. I don’t have time to worry about things like the Great Barrington Declaration.”
Keep in mind that we have full records of emails in which Fauci took credit for coming “out very strongly publicly against the Great Barrington Declaration.”
In conclusion, we have here a revealing account of astonishing testimony from Fauci, which, to those of us who have followed this case closely from the very beginning, is only shocking because it confirms the fullness of the treachery we have long suspected was at the very heart of the US lockdown experience. We also have confirmed that the phrase “social distancing” really is nothing but a euphemism for a China-style full assault on everything we once called freedom in the West.
President Biden: I am feeling fine, everything is good.
Biden won a place in an unlucky trifecta. Biden, top Covid adviser Anthony Fauci, and the head of vaccine-maker Pfizer had all insisted the vaccines would prevent Covid. Among them, they now count at least 14 shots — and 6 bouts with Coronavirus. Living symbols of the lapses, confusion, and government misinformation that mark America’s long Covid nightmare.
President Biden (January 4): So, there’s no excuse — no excuse for anyone being unvaccinated. This continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
In the beginning, Americans put their full faith in public health officials.
Dr. Anthony Fauci (March 2020, CNN): That’s no time to pull back. That’s when you need to hunker down, nail down, mitigate, mitigate, mitigate. Get the people taken care of. That’s what you’ve got to concentrate on.
But “15 days to slow the spread” turned into an ordeal with unthinkable costs still being paid. Economic fallout, destroyed education, shuttered businesses, lost jobs, and Covid ravaged the country all the same.
Too often, the public watched as their top experts seem to be the last to admit the obvious. Multiple cringeworthy moments and false claims were provided by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky (March 29, 2021, MSNBC): Our data from the CDC today suggests you know that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick.
Just this past week, after a reported five Covid vaccinations, CDC announced Walensky’s second bout with Covid in a 9-day period.
In one of public health’s most urgent moments — after trillions of tax dollars and decades spent preparing — CDC became a punchline.
Sharyl: The idea that the premier health agency in the world didn’t know what to do when a pandemic broke out and put out wrong information so often, that’s really been harmful.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya: I completely agree.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya is a professor at the Stanford School of Medicine. He helped lead thousands of scientists early on in endorsing a different approach: instead of shutdowns, isolate those at most risk, and let others lead normal lives.
Emails later revealed top public health officials conspired to smear Bhattacharya and his colleagues for veering from the narrative. The head of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, wrote Fauci of the need for “a quick and devastating published take down” of Bhattacharya’s ideas.
Bhattacharya: It just reeks of scientific incompetence or the manipulation of science in order to get their desired policy ends. Probably the most egregious is this denial of natural immunity. Places like the CDC have argued that there is no proof or evidence of essentially protection against future Covid exposure after you’re Covid-recovered. No natural immunity. And so, by denying this fact about the immunity, people in the real world are not dumb. And they say, “Well, why are they saying this false thing to me? What else are they saying to me that’s false?”
Congressman Tom Massie exposed another shocking example of false information coming from CDC, as we reported last year. Massie caught top CDC leaders and scientists claiming that original studies showed people who’d had Covid would still benefit from getting vaccinated. That wasn’t true.
In phone calls Massie recorded, CDC officials promised they’d fix their disinformation. Instead, they continued to spread the false claims here, in a seminar aimed at medical professionals.
Dr. Sara Oliver (CDC video): “…Data from both clinical trials suggests that people with prior infection are still likely to benefit from vaccination.”
Over the summer, keenly aware of the widening credibility gap, Walensky conducted her own review of CDC’s Covid response. She concluded her agency had failed miserably in its biggest moment.
Walensky (August 10, CBS News): We made some pretty public mistakes, and we need to own them.
Walensky found that to move forward, CDC must align incentives with public health action and impact, improve internal coordination, implement new governance with an emphasis on the core capabilities and accountability at all levels, and upskill and train toward a response-capable agency.
Still, the inside review fell far short of the top-to-bottom makeover envisioned by critics and even by one of CDC’s longtime supporters.
Lawrence Gostin: I’m really worried about CDC’s credibility.
Lawrence Gostin heads up the World Health Organization’s Center on Global Health Law.
Gostin: CDC does need an overhaul.
Sharyl: I’m a little surprised to hear you agree with some of CDC’s harshest critics in that an overhaul is needed.
Gostin: Yeah. I mean, it’s always better to have suggestions for reform from a close and dear friend. And I am as close and as dear a friend to CDC as anybody could be. Everybody knows things have to change, and they do.
Sharyl: What could they have done to not end up in a place where they lack so much public trust today?
Gostin: Yeah. I mean, it’s hard. I mean, I know so many of the public health leaders at CDC, and I’m very good friends with Tony Fauci. But nobody escaped unscathed. And there were times when the agency just literally misstepped. It misfired.
Sharyl: When you say CDC could use an overhaul, what would you envision, something realistic?
Gostin: What I want to see is, you know, the best public health minds in the country doing an independent, open report — a retrospective on CDC’s performance during COVID, and what it needs to do now.
Right now, with no CDC overhaul or outside review underway, politicians are threatening to step in.
House Republican leader Steve Scalise says the public’s loss of confidence extends well beyond the CDC to the FDA and other government agencies that had a role in the problematic Covid response.
Sharyl: How can this credibility gap that’s developed be fixed? And is there anything that members of Congress — particularly if Republicans regain control in November — is there anything that can be done about it?
Rep. Steve Scalise: Well, we’re going to be ready to go day one. And if we’re in the majority, we will have hearings to get those facts out, but then go and restore the credibility of those agencies by taking away that power to just unilaterally control people’s lives and get back to the science — what used to be their main focus, that got thrown out the window when people politicized it because they wanted to use government to control people.
Sharyl: Looking ahead, let’s say there’s another pandemic or big public health emergency with the federal agencies in the same state as they’re in today. Where do you think that leaves us?
Bhattacharya: I think we’re in a very, very bad state. We have to reform each of these agencies pretty fundamentally. We’re going to need to have a very honest look at the problems in this pandemic, almost like a 9/11 style commission.
Gostin says President Biden is in the driver’s seat.
Gostin: In terms of having an independent, scientific public health inquiry on lessons learned from Covid and overhauling the CDC, he can do that. He’s the head of federal agencies in the United States. He could do it, and he should do it. And he should do all he can to make the CDC a really robust and shining agency, just like that shining agency on a hill that CDC used to be. We need to get back there.
Fauci, the director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984 and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, was deposed by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, both Republicans.
“It was amazing, literally, that we spent seven hours with Dr. Fauci—this is a man who single-handedly wrecked the U.S. economy based upon ‘the science, follow the science.’—and over the course of seven hours, we discovered that he can’t recall practically anything dealing with his COVID response,” Landry told The Epoch Times after leaving the deposition. “He just said, ‘I can’t recall, I haven’t seen that. And I think we need to put these documents into context,’” Landry added.
“It was extremely troubling to realize that this is a man who advises presidents of the United States and yet couldn’t recall information he put out, information he discussed, press conferences he held dealing with the COVID-19 response,” Landry added later.
Fauci and NIAID did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Landry declined to provide specific details about the deposition until it is made public, which will happen at a future date. But he said officials would be able to take some of what they learned to advance their case.
Doughty concluded that plaintiffs showed Fauci “has personal knowledge about the issue concerning censorship across social media as it related to COVID-19 and ancillary issues of COVID-19.”
While Fauci qualified as a high-ranking official, the burden of him being deposed was outweighed by the court’s need for information before ruling on a motion for a preliminary injunction, Doughty said.
Wednesday was the first time Fauci testified under oath about his interactions with big tech firms, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Before the deposition, Landry said in a statement, “We all deserve to know how involved Dr. Fauci was in the censorship of the American people during the COVID pandemic; tomorrow, I hope to find out.”
“We’re going to follow the evidence everywhere it goes to get down to exactly what has happened, to get down to the fact that our government used private entities to suppress the speech of Americans,” Landry told The Epoch Times.
Similar efforts to block the depositions of former White House press secretary Jen Psaki and FBI official Elvis Chan have been unsuccessful.
Chan is scheduled to answer questions next week. Psaki is scheduled to be deposed on Dec. 8.
Chan was involved in communicating with Facebook, LinkedIn, and other big tech firms about content moderation, according to evidence developed in the case and public statements he’s made. Psaki publicly said while still in the White House that platforms should step up against alleged mis- and disinformation.
Plaintiffs have already deposed several officials including Daniel Kimmage, an official at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center.
That center worked with Easterly’s agency to create a coalition of nonprofits called the Election Integrity Partnership, which pushed social media companies to censor speech.
Kimmage was also responsible for meetings during which censorship was discussed, with State Department official Samaruddin Stewart acting on his orders, according to documents produced by LinkedIn.
Even if government officials “urged social media companies do more to contain misinformation, any content moderation decisions made by social media companies ultimately ‘rested with’ those companies,” U.S. lawyers said.
“Even emphatic requests or strongly worded urging, see … (President Biden saying failing to take action against misinformation results in ‘killing people’), do not plausibly amount to coercion,” the lawyers added.
Plaintiffs are crafting a response to the motion.
Both sides are also preparing briefs regarding the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision that blocked the Murthy, Easterly, and Flaherty depositions.
The appeals court said Doughty had not adequately considered whether alternative means of obtaining the information sought exist, such as deposing lower-level officials or seeking written answers from the higher-level officials.
Doughty ordered plaintiffs to file a brief by Nov. 29. The government has until Dec. 2 to respond. Plaintiffs may reply to that response by Dec. 5.
White House shuts down reporters asking Biden’s retiring adviser about COVID origins – as he suggests Americans get tested and boosted before Thanksgiving
Dr Anthony Fauci made his final White House briefing room appearance Tuesday
It was the place where his profile rose after clashes with President Donald Trump
For the last time he pleaded with the public to get the latest booster vaccine
But the briefing was halted as reporters hurled questions about COVID’s origins
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre demanded order amid unruly scenes
Dr. Anthony Fauci made his final appearance in the White House briefing room on Tuesday, triggering chaotic scenes as reporters bombarded him with questions about the origins of COVID-19.
He delivered a message to Americans to get booster vaccines and reflected on his time as one of the country’s top scientists, but Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was forced to step in as journalists shouted questions.
‘We have a process here,’ she said with a glare at a reporter in one of the back rows.
‘I’m not calling on people who yell and you’re being disrespectful to your colleagues, and you’re being disrespectful to our guests.
‘I will not call on you if you yell and also you’re taking time off the clock, because Dr. Fauci has to leave in a couple of minutes.
‘I’m done. I’m not getting into a back and forth with you.’
KJP yells at reporter during Fauci’s final White House briefing
Dr. Anthony Fauci returned to the White House briefing room for a final time to urge Americans to get another COVID-19 vaccination as peak winter season approaches
But White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stepped in as fractious journalists shouted over one another to ask questions about the origins of COVID-19
‘I will not call on you if you yell and also you’re taking time off the clock,’ she told journalists
It marked the latest clash between reporters and officials.
While television journalists in the front rows can expect to ask questions every day, those sitting further back – or coming armed with awkward questions – feel hard done by when their raised hands are ignored.
The day was meant to mark Fauci’s impending retirement. He was returning to the podium where he became a household name at the start of the pandemic, and where he would occasionally contradict President Donald Trump’s wilder comments about COVID-19.
The 81-year-old steps down after 54 years of public service
He used the occasion to hammer home a public health message, urging viewers to get the latest booster.
Fauci’s prominence rose in the previous administration, when he appeared regularly alongside then President Donald Trump in the White House briefing room
At times Fauci struggled to hide his exasperation with Trump and his handling of the crisis
‘We know it’s safe. We know that it is effective,’ he said.
‘So my message and maybe the final message I give you from this podium, is that please, for your own safety, for that of your family, get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you’re eligible, to protect yourself, your family and your community.’
And he suggested it was a good idea to get tested before sitting down with relatives for Thanksgiving.
‘When we’re gathering at a family gathering for Thanksgiving or for Christmas, or for any other holiday as we get into the winter, it makes sense that you might want to get a test that day before you come into a place in which you might be infected and spread it or other people,’ he said.
But when the briefing was turned over to questions, he faced a barrage of queries about some of the hot button, partisan issues raised by the pandemic.
What he had done to investigate the origins of the pandemic?
Did he think gain-of-function experiments – making viruses more dangerous to test the impact of variations – were safe?
And was it appropriate to fund EcoHealth Alliance, which used its money for coronavirus research in China, putting it at the heart of conspiracy theories about the emergence of COVID-19.
It was a reminder of how Fauci had become a punchbag for conspiracy theorists, libertarians and conservatives, who turned him into a hate figure.
Jean-Pierre stepped in to shut down the questions, leading to pushback from some journalists.
Anthony Fauci departs. He has headed the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984
‘She has a valid question about the origin of COVID,’ said Simon Ateba, one of the loudest members of the briefing room’s awkward squad. ‘Dr. Fauci is the best person to answer.’
‘I hear your question,’ responded Jean-Pierre, ‘But we’re not doing it the way you want it.’
It came just after Fauci had mused on lessons learned from the pandemic, and expressed his concern about divisions across America.
‘When I see people in this country because of the divisiveness in our country … not getting vaccinated for reasons that have nothing to do with public health, but have to do because of divisiveness and ideological differences, as a physician, it pains me,’ Fauci said.
‘I don’t want to see anybody hospitalized, and I don’t want to see anybody die from COVID. Whether you’re a far-right Republican or a far-left Democrat, doesn’t make any difference to me.’
Fauci has headed the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, since 1984.
In February 2020, virologists were beginning to worry that discussion about the origins of SARS-2 was getting out of hand. Four of them – Edward Holmes, Kristian Andersen, Andrew Rambaut and Robert Garry – decided to write a short statement on the matter, in the hopes of regaining control of the debate. Jeremy Farrar, chairman of the international vaccination cabal known as the Wellcome Trust, coordinated their work and sent a draft to various virological villains, among them Anthony Fauci and Christian Drosten, for comment.
The draft statement itself (at p. 67 here) is mostly unremarkable. It insists, in bold on the first page, that “Analysis of the virus genome sequences clearly demonstrates that the virus is not a laboratory construct or experimentally manipulated virus.” At least some of its authors, though, especially Edward Holmes, were willing to entertain the lab leak hypothesis, and the consequence was this paragraph considering the possibility that SARS-2 had been enhanced by repeated passage in cell cultures or animals:
Christian Drosten answered immediately that he thought he and his colleagues had already agreed “to challenge a certain theory, and if we could, drop it”:
From this we learn, first, that Drosten had been party to prior discussions among his colleagues, where they had discussed messaging strategies relating to “a certain theory”; and, second, that Drosten apparently had no real understanding of the reasoning behind or the case for laboratory origins, and this as late as 9 February.
Edward Holmes (who Farrar elsewhere says is leaning “60-40” for the laboratory origins of SARS-2) has to bring him up to date:
Among other things, it’s very interesting to see how eager all these virologists were for those fishy pangolin sequences, which Chinese scientists released just as discussions of laboratory origins were gaining ground.
“Tomorrow, along with my colleague from Louisiana, my Office and I will depose Dr. Anthony Fauci in our lawsuit against the Biden Administration for allegedly colluding with social media companies to censor freedom of speech.
“Since we filed our landmark lawsuit, we have uncovered documents and discovery that show clear coordination between the Biden Administration and social media companies on censoring speech, but we’re not done yet. We plan to get answers on behalf of the American people. Stay tuned.”
The statement also quoted Jeff Landry:
“We all deserve to know how involved Dr. Fauci was in the censorship of the American people during the COVID pandemic; tomorrow, I hope to find out.
“And I will continue fighting for the truth as it relates to Big Government colluding with Big Tech to stifle free speech.”
Schmitt and Landry sued President Biden, Fauci and others on May 5. New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonprofit group representing outspoken critics of COVID-19 vaccines and countermeasures, including Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff, Aaron Kheriaty and also Jill Hines, joined the lawsuit in August, as did Jim Hoft, founder and editor-in-chief of The Gateway Pundit.
According to the complaint, government officials colluded with and coerced Big Tech and social media platforms to “suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints and content” relating to COVID-19.
Carol Crawford, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Digital Media Branch
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly
White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty
Daniel Kimmage, an official at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy
Two lower-level officials were listed as alternates: Lauren Protentis of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in place of Easterly, and former White House COVID-19 adviser Andrew Slavitt in place of Flaherty.
A previous ruling had forced the above-named individuals to provide written testimony.
Judge rejects ‘self-serving blanket denials’
In his Oct. 21 ruling, Judge Doughty agreed with the plaintiffs that Fauci’s prior “self-serving blanket denials” regarding his role in censoring certain types of content and viewpoints on social media could not be taken at face value, necessitating a deposition.
“After finding documentation of a collusive relationship between the Biden administration and social media companies to censor free speech, we immediately filed a motion to get these officials under oath.
“It is high time we shine a light on this censorship enterprise and force these officials to come clean to the American people, and this ruling will allow us to do just that. We’ll keep pressing for the truth.”
Depositions of three Biden administration officials on hold
In an order issued Monday, the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit temporarily halted the scheduled depositions of Easterly, Flaherty and Murthy.
According to Politico, the three-judge panel unanimously found Judge Doughty had erred in approving the depositions without first examining whether there were “other means” of obtaining the information the plaintiffs are seeking.
The court sent the case back to Doughty for further review. According to the order:
“Thus, before any of the depositions may go forward, the district court must analyze whether the information sought can be obtained through less intrusive, alternative means, such as further written discovery or depositions of lower-ranking officials.
“Written findings as to the availability and sufficiency of alternatives need to be entered.”
In a statement provided to The Defender by Landry’s office, Landry said, “These developments do not change my pursuit of the truth. We respect the court’s decision and will continue in the discovery phase of this case.”
Thursday’s court order came after lawyers for the government argued the plaintiffs should not have the ability to depose the three officials in question, on the basis that they are high-ranking government officials, and that the depositions would “unavoidably distract” them from “their important and time-sensitive duties,” which would “cause irreparable harm.”
However, the federal government’s motion for a partial stay of Judge Doughty’s deposition order was denied. The Nov. 21 order stated, “We make no ruling on the petition … at this time.”
Easterly, Flaherty and Murthy were scheduled to be deposed in early December.
On Wednesday Judge Doughty, in a separate ruling, ordered Psaki to sit for a deposition and rejected an attempt to shield FBI Agent Chan from answering questions under oath.
Plaintiffs in the case argued that none of the officials were “high-ranking,” and Judge Doughty agreed, finding that the “burdens” the officials would face as a result of sitting for depositions were outweighed by the necessity of gathering more information regarding the allegations in question prior to ruling on a motion for a preliminary injunction.
According to the 5th Circuit’s order:
“It is not enough, as the district court found, that these officials may have ‘personal knowledge’ about certain communications.
“That knowledge may be shared widely or have only marginal importance in comparison to the ‘potential burden’ imposed on the deponent.”
According to the court, the government already produced “extensive written discovery.” The government claims that these documents do not reveal any violations of the First Amendment, while the plaintiffs claim otherwise.
Politico also reported that the 5th Circuit asked Judge Doughty to consider ruling on the overall viability of the lawsuit before allowing the depositions to proceed.
The 5th Circuit said Judge Doughty should have not issued a ruling regarding the depositions until the courts decided on the government’s motion to dismiss — even though that motion was withdrawn after plaintiffs filed an amended complaint and the government has not filed a new motion to dismiss.
According to Politico, the 5th Circuit’s order is not final: Judge Doughty may still decide, based on a newly clarified analysis, that depositions of Easterly, Flaherty and Murthy are needed.
Politico also reported that the 5th Circuit’s order may strengthen efforts by Psaki and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to halt her deposition.
At a recent hearing, Psaki’s lawyers claimed there is no evidence she had met or had been in contact with any social media executives regarding purported “misinformation,” although she did express critical remarks about social media platforms during White House press briefings.
In his Nov. 21 order, Judge Doughty rejected that claim, writing:
“Despite the fact that Psaki is a former high-ranking official, the potential burden upon Psaki was outweighed by the need to determine whether free speech had been suppressed.”
Magistrate Judge Ivan Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia passed the issue to Judge Doughty. Davis dismissed Psaki’s claims, arguing that Psaki and the DOJ were attempting an “end-run” around the deposition order.
Judge Doughty previously found “that Plaintiffs have proven that Jennifer Psaki has personal knowledge about the issue concerning censorship across social media as it related to COVID-19 and ancillary issues of COVID-19.”
“Psaki has made a number of statements that are relevant to the Government’s involvement in a number of social-media platforms’ efforts to censor its users across the board for sharing information related to COVID-19,” Judge Doughty added. “Any burden on Psaki is outweighed by the need to determine whether free speech has been suppressed.”