Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) in a July 6 letter questioned Dr. James LeDuc, former director of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), about the ties between UTMB and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Roy’s letter, which was exclusively obtained by The Epoch Times, accuses LeDuc of violating both federal and Texas state law in an agreement he signed with the WIV.
“I am writing today to seek answers to questions raised in the wake of University of Texas Medical Branch documents released under the Texas Public Information Act to the U.S. Right to Know nonprofit organization,” Roy wrote. “The documents raise important questions regarding your involvement in agreements and compromising connections with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.”
Roy said that one document signed between UTMB and the WIV “is particularly concerning.”
That document, a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU), contained a so-called “memory-hole” provision.
“The confidentiality obligation shall be applicable throughout the duration of the MoU and after it has been terminated,” the provision read. “The party is entitled to ask the other to destroy and/or return the secret files, materials and equipment without any backups.”
Roy continued: “The federal government has awarded over $2.5 billion in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) plus hundreds of millions in grants and contracts from other federal agencies to UTMB. It is concerning that any public institution receiving federal government funding would enter into a cooperation agreement with an entity controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”
“Further,” Roy added, “though UTMB may not be alone, it raises serious concerns that a prominent recipient of federal taxpayer dollars would enter into an agreement with any foreign entity—but especially an adversary—with such a glaring ‘memory hole’ provision that authorizes research materials and files to be destroyed upon request.
“As more evidence seems to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 originated from the WIV and cannot conclusively be ruled out as the source, it is essential to have a clear understanding of knowledge transfers between China and the United States. Even before the virus infected the U.S. homeland, the WIV’s removal of its largest database of viral sequences in September 2019 raises serious questions about WIV’s intent to participate in a fair research data exchange with the [United States].
“Further, the November 2016 and October 2017 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grants Policy Statement requires recipients to ‘retain financial and programmatic records supporting documents, statistical records, and all records that are required by the terms of the grant.’ Recipients that have a qualified foreign component are required to receive prior approval from the NIH. UTMB is also required to retain records under Federal and Texas law, including what is laid out under UTMB’s Records Retention Schedule. The MoU you signed between UTMB and the WIV appears to conflict with these requirements.
“As Congress looks to safeguard Americans from national security risks, it is essential that we understand why federal grant recipients are entering into partnerships with institutions in adversarial countries and under what circumstances. Therefore, we request information from you regarding the interactions and agreements between UTMB and the WIV under your leadership.”
Roy then laid out a litany of questions, including whether LeDuc destroyed any files consonant with the agreement, whether the agreement was later modified, whether UTMB staff thought the agreement was in accordance with the law, and whether UTMB entered similar agreements with China or other countries, among other questions.
LeDuc, who has received funding from Dr. Anthony Fauci, has been in the headlines before for his connection with the Wuhan lab.
Near the beginning of the pandemic, while Fauci and his allies were dismissing the “lab leak” theory of the origins of the coronavirus, LeDuc was privately calling for an investigation into whether the virus had indeed originated in the Wuhan lab.
LeDuc could not be immediately reached for comment.