As the United States still attempts to dig out from the aftermath caused by former White House medical advisor and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, the House Energy and Commerce Committee makes a startling discovery.
Fauci may not have had the legal authority to make any decisions during the pandemic.
NIH Directors were under a five-year term as dictated by the 21st Century Cures Act. In December of 2021, those terms ended, and re-appointments were required. A year and a half later, in June of 2023, reappointments were finally made.
And Fauci wasn’t one of them.
“Given his central role in the COVID-19 response, the Committee is particularly concerned about the failure to reappoint Dr. Fauci,” lawmakers said in a letter to HHS. “Without reappointment, Dr. Fauci continued to serve as NIAID Director until his retirement on December 31, 2022. If Dr. Fauci was never reappointed, every action he took is potentially invalid.”
“HHS and the NIH’s bad faith and failure to follow the law in this matter epitomizes why Americans no longer trust federal public health agencies,” lawmakers allege. “Not only did HHS and NIH ignore the law, it is also grossly unfair that Dr. Fauci — who unlawfully held his position after December 13, 2021 — could use his authority to push authoritarian mandates on the American people during the COVID-19 pandemic response.”
The implications are clear: Fauci and others within the NIH ran roughshod over the U.S. without the legal authority to do so. “If Dr. Fauci was never reappointed,” lawmakers challenge, “every action he took is potentially invalid.”
The investigation by The House Energy and Commerce Committee began in March 2022, with the results disclosed in July 2023. Lawmakers penned a letter of challenge in early July to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.
“We write raising serious concerns about your failure to follow the law and ensure accountability of billions of dollars in taxpayer funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As detailed below, it has become apparent that you, as Secretary of Health and Human Services, did not reappoint a number of Institute and Center (IC) Directors at the NIH. Your failure could have grave implications for the validity of actions taken by 14 NIH IC Directors during their unlawful tenure, including former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.”
The HHS, in full damage control, contends that the appointments were made as required and that they were “retroactively ratified” in June to “guard against bad faith legal challenges” from the committee. Becerra, however, stands accused of a coverup due to his inability to present any documentary proof of reappointments for 14 NIH Directors, including Fauci.
If the facts stated by the committee are accurate, Fauci, formerly the highest-paid employee on the governmental payroll, will need to repay his salary for the year in the sum of over $430k. In addition, more than $25 billion in medical research grants awarded by the agency from January 2022 through June of 2023 are potentially invalid.
Former senior official for the HHS Robert Moffit explains, “For Dr. Fauci and 13 other NIH officials whose terms had expired and failed to be reappointed, they would be guilty of a violation of the act if they knowingly—knowingly—accepted federal salaries, or worse, made grants to institutions or organizations that they were not legally authorized to make.”
Moffitt goes on to say, “If guilty of such a violation, they would be required to reimburse the federal government for their salaries, and the grants would at least be subject to litigation from competitors in the research community who lost grant opportunities in a lawful process.”
For the Biden administration, this means grants to pet projects such as the EcoHealth Alliance are in jeopardy. It also invalidates nearly all of Fauci’s “COVID-19 guidance” to the White House.
But legitimate organizations, such as the National Institute on Aging, are caught in the net as well. The NIA recently approved Legembi, a potential game-changer for those suffering from Alzheimer’s. It’s unclear what will happen to these medical advances funded with invalid grant money.
It’s not clear what the path forward is for the committee. These are, per a committee aide, “legally unprecedented waters.”
“I mean, frankly, it’s just not clear to us if they can fix this or if they need to come to us with some sort of legislative proposal,” the aide told reporters. “I think, to properly belt-and-suspender this you would need to re-compete the impacted grants.”
But the White House doesn’t care about collateral damage. They needed Fauci as the face of COVID-19 guidance, whether he had the authority to represent the NIH or not.