President Trump announced on Thursday that he has seen evidence suggesting that the coronavirus originated from a laboratory in China.
When asked if he knew of anything that gave him confidence that the outbreak originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the president responded, “Yes I have.”
Trump then continued by labeling the WHO in its current state as nothing more than a public relations agency for China. “And, I think that the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves because they’re like the public relations agency for China.”
Trump said there were three or four different theories about the origin of the virus – including bats, wet markets, and the virology lab in Wuhan – but that he had tasked intelligence officials and scientists to find more details.
“There are a lot of theories,” he said. “But we have people looking at it very, very strongly. Scientific people, intelligence people, and others.”
Intelligence officials also confirmed Thursday that the Wuhan lab in question has been made the center of an investigation to determine the true origins of the global pandemic.
“The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China. The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified,” a statement from the office of acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell said in a statement.
“As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security. The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” he added.
As tensions between China and the U.S. continue their trend upward, China has refused U.S. requests that it allow inspectors access to the lab.
Trump said the “world is suffering greatly” while speaking of China’s response.
“This is something that could have been contained at the original location and I think it could have been contained relatively easily,” Trump said. “They were either unable to or they chose not to.”
“I don’t understand how traffic, how people weren’t allowed into the rest of China but they were allowed into the rest of the world,” Trump said.
When asked about possible repercussions for Beijing over the virus, Trump told the news organization, “I can do a lot,” without elaborating further.
In an Oval Office interview with Reuters, Trump said “China will do anything they can to have me lose this race.”
The president said he believes China would approve of a Joe Biden presidency to ease the pressure stemming from his administration’s trade policies, including billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on Chinese goods.
When reporters asked Trump about his claim that China wanted former Vice President Joe Biden to be the next president, asking if he believed that China was intentionally withholding information about the virus to hurt his reelection chances.
“I don’t want to cast any aspersions, I just will tell you that China would like to see ‘Sleepy’ Joe Biden,” he said. “They would take this country for a ride.”
Trump went on to dismiss recent polls that showed Biden was leading the 2020 race.
“I don’t believe the polls,” Trump said. “I believe the people of this country are smart. And I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent.”