The FBI contacted the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to ask “grant questions” about the agency’s award to a nonprofit that diverted funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) for coronavirus bat research, according to an email obtained by a watchdog group.
“In preparation for our call on Tuesday, Erik [Stemmy] (cc’d) has provided responses to your initial questions below (also attached),” wrote Ashley Sanders of NIH to a man named David A. Miller, an FBI agent, according to emails obtained by Judicial Watch.
The U.S.-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which diverted $600,000 in taxpayer money to the WIV between 2014 and 2019, received warning that they were out of compliance with NIH guidelines. In May 2020, a senior investigations officer in the NIH’s Division of Program Integrity corresponded with the FBI on the NIH’s “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence” grant.
The subject line of Sanders’ email was “Grant Questions – FBI Inquiry – 1-R01A1I110964-01 – 2-R01AI110964-06.” The number listed corresponds with the “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence” award through the NIH.
Another person named Mike Shannon, who has an NIH email address, is copied on the correspondence. Communications in connection with Sanders’ correspondence were redacted by the federal government, making it unclear what else was discussed.
Brian Shannon, the Department of Health and Human Services chief of staff during the Trump administration, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the U.S. should never have been allowed funding to go to a lab linked to the Chinese government.
“After this funding was identified by those of us in senior levels of the Trump Administration, the decision was made to cut it off,” said Shannon, now a Republican Texas state House member. “That was clearly the right decision.”
U.S. intelligence agencies published a report in 2021 noting that they do not know whether the coronavirus came from a lab or from animals. In July, a House committee voted to advance legislation that would defund the WIV.
It is still unclear whether the COVID-19 pandemic has origins from the WIV — but the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Thursday it is “open” to investigating “new evidence” in connection with the lab-leak theory. Still, studies point to COVID-19 having Chinese origins.
The NIH did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the FBI.
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