Hazlehurst: And he has come forward and explained how he told the United States government vaccines can cause autism in a certain subset of children and United States government, the Department of Justice suppressed his true opinions.
Hazlehurst discovered that later when Dr. Zimmerman evaluated Yates as a teenager. That’s when he partnered with vaccine safety advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Junior—who has a voice condition.
Kennedy: This was one of the most consequential frauds, arguably in human history.
Kennedy was instrumental in convincing Dr. Zimmerman to document his remarkable claim of the government covering up his true expert opinion on vaccines and autism.
Dr. Zimmerman declined our interview request and referred us to his sworn affidavit. It says: On June 15, 2007, he took aside the Department of Justice—or DOJ lawyers he worked for defending vaccines in vaccine court. He told them that he’d discovered “exceptions in which vaccinations could cause autism.” “I explained that in a subset of children, vaccine induced fever and immune stimulation did cause regressive brain disease with features of autism spectrum disorder.”
Kennedy: This panicked the two DOJ attorneys and they immediately fired Zimmerman. That was on a Friday and over the weekend they called Zimmerman and said his services would no longer be needed. They wanted to silence him.
Days after the Department of Justice lawyers fired Dr. Zimmerman as their expert witness, he alleges, they went on to misrepresent his opinion to continue to debunk autism claims. Records show that on June 18, 2007, a DOJ attorney Dr. Zimmerman spoke to told vaccine court, “We know [Dr. Zimmerman’s] views on the issue…There is no scientific basis for a connection” between vaccines and autism. Dr. Zimmerman now calls that “highly misleading.”
The former DOJ lawyer didn’t return our calls and emails. Kennedy has filed a fraud complaint with the Justice Department Inspector General, who told us they don’t “comment on investigations or potential investigations.”
Meantime, CDC—which promotes vaccines and monitors vaccine safety– never disclosed that the government’s own one-time medical expert concluded vaccines can cause autism – and to this day public health officials deny that’s the case.
Dr. Anne Schuchat: “Based on dozens of studies and everything I know as a physician and a scientist, there’s no link between autism and vaccines.”
CDC declined our interview request. In addition to filing a fraud complaint, Kennedy has delivered Dr. Zimmerman’s affidavit to leaders on Capitol Hill. But there he claims, is another key part of this story: roadblocks set up by the pharmaceutical industry—or PhRMA.
Kennedy: But everybody takes money from PhRMA so they’ve all been corrupted. And it’s almost impossible to get anything done on Capitol Hill.
Kennedy, a Democrat, isn’t the only one claiming vaccine industry money rules the day. We spoke to 11 current and former members of Congress and staff who claim they faced pressure, bullying or threats when they raised vaccine safety questions. Several of them agreed to appear on camera.
Burton: There’s no question in my mind whatsoever that the pharmaceutical industry had a great influence with people over at the CDC and FDA. There’s no question in my mind.
Republican Dan Burton—former Chairman of the House Oversight Committee—has an autistic grandson.
Burton: I am not against vaccinations.
He pursued vaccine investigations in the early 2000s. Beth Clay was one of his staffers.
Clay: There was a lot of pressure from people on the Hill.
When you say people on the hill were exerting pressure, what kind of people? Colleagues?
Clay: Colleagues, there were pharmaceutical lobbyists. The pharmaceutical lobbyists had, you know, they are the same people that have been entrenched. They can walk into any office in Capitol Hill, and they’ll talk to staff, they’ll talk to members and they’ll encourage them to discourage, our investigation.
Sharyl: At the risk of stating the obvious why did they have that kind of access to members?
Clay: It’s money. And if you look at the donations over the last 20 years, the pharmaceutical industry, and Republican and Democrat, they’re nonpartisan. They put money everywhere.