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Rand Paul asks NIH to preserve all of Dr. Anthony Fauci's documents for upcoming GOP oversight
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Rand Paul asks NIH to preserve all of Dr. Anthony Fauci's documents for upcoming GOP oversight

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday asked the National Institutes of Health to preserve all of outgoing White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci's documents and communications.

In a letter addressed to acting NIH director Dr. Lawrence Tabak, Paul requested that all of Fauci's documents be preserved for future congressional oversight investigations, placing special emphasis on communications related to coronavirus research funded by Fauci's agency.

The letter was sent after Fauci announced on Monday he would step down from his role as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in December.

"I formally request you ensure the preservation of all documents and communications within Dr. Fauci's posession related to his tenure at the National Institutes of Health," Paul wrote. "This information is critical to ensure that Congress has access to information necessary to conduct proper oversight regarding events that took place during Dr. Fauci's tenure within the agency."

Paul requested that all records, email, electronic documents, and data "created or shared with Dr. Fauci" during his more than three-decade tenure at the agency be preserved. The Kentucky lawmaker emphasized that NIH should preserve documents related to federal funding for coronavirus research, which would include grants given EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit that sub-awarded NIH funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China to study bat coronaviruses.

"The American people deserve transparency and accountability from the NIH regarding the COVID-19 pandemic regardless of Dr. Fauci's future employment plans," Paul wrote.

EcoHealth's relationship with the Wuhan lab has been the subject of intense scrutiny by Paul and others who have alleged that gain-of-function research experiments conducted in China may be linked to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The senator has repeatedly confronted Fauci on gain-of-function research in highly publicized congressional hearings — during which Fauci has denied any wrongdoing and accused Paul of "distorting" facts to attack scientists.

Fauci, who announced on Monday he would leave the government but is not retiring, has served as the White House's chief spokesman for the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years.

Republican lawmakers have suggested that the timing of Fauci's departure is convenient, given that the GOP is widely expected to retake at least the House of Representatives in November's midterm elections and will hold oversight hearings on Fauci's tenure should they indeed regain power.

Paul's demand that NIH preserve Fauci's records is but the latest indication that regardless of the outcome of the election, GOP lawmakers will attempt to hold Fauci accountable for his handling of the pandemic.

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