Veteran federal AIDS doctor Anthony Fauci on Sunday called a bombshell investigation into Scott Gottlieb’s tenure as undersecretary for medical science and medical research at the National Institutes of Health “a whole series of events that became unnecessarily complicated.”
According to congressional investigators, Gottlieb improperly removed a senior scientist who had clashed with a drugmaker, received campaign contributions from another company, and misused taxpayer money for a vacation to Aspen. In addition, as New York Times reporter Celia Hahn noted, at one point Gottlieb barred federal scientists from doing work on a drug to fight a pandemic diarrhea disease afflicting the Rohingya people in Myanmar, an ouster Fauci supported.
“These may be legitimate issues. They may be questions we have to look at,” Fauci said during a panel discussion on “Closing the Gaps in Polio and AIDS” hosted by C-SPAN at the National Press Club.
In an interview with the Post, Fauci continued: “For sure, it was a distraction from our current work,” Fauci said.
A congressional investigation into these allegations was launched in May by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), along with senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), amid concerns the sweeping National Institutes of Health budget cuts President Donald Trump has proposed would harm its biomedical research efforts.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) released a statement after news of the investigation broke.
“The disclosure that Scott Gottlieb politicized scientific data to advance his own personal agenda is just the latest in a line of examples of Dr. Gottlieb abusing his position for partisan political gain,” Lieu said. “Gottlieb claimed to be carrying out President Trump’s agenda of dismantling the NIH. This is further proof that our great nation will no longer allow one man to be given power over our public health.”
All issues between Gottlieb and his staff were resolved, according to Fauci.