If elected president again, Donald Trump says he’ll push for China to pay damages to countries around the world for the spread of COVID-19.
What You Need To Know
- If elected president again, Donald Trump says he’ll push for China to pay damages to countries around the world for the spread of COVID-19
- In an op-ed for The Daily Mail on Saturday, Trump wrote, “nothing should be off the table—tariffs, taxes, and a global summit on reparations"
- The article, however, was rooted in a number of false and misleading claims, namely that the origin of COVID-19 is clear after the U.S. Energy Department and FBI concluded the virus most likely was created in a Wuhan, China, lab and leaked into the public
- There is no consensus within the U.S. government about how the virus began
In an op-ed for The Daily Mail on Saturday, Trump wrote, “nothing should be off the table—tariffs, taxes, and a global summit on reparations.
“The World must ensure that such a tragedy never happens again!”
The article, however, was rooted in a number of false and misleading claims, namely that the origin of COVID-19 is clear after the U.S. Energy Department and FBI concluded the virus most likely was created in a Wuhan, China, lab and leaked into the public.
“Now, the world is finally admitting the truth,” Trump wrote, later adding, “The facts are now plain for all to see.”
However, there is no consensus within the U.S. government about how the virus began. And the Energy Department said it has “low confidence” in its assessment, while the FBI says it has “moderate confidence” in its.
"There's not been a definitive conclusion," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said last week. “What the president [Joe Biden] wants is facts. He wants the whole government designed to go get those facts. And that's what we're doing, and we're just not there yet."
While the Energy Department and FBI support the lab-leak theory, four agencies and the National Intelligence Council have concluded with low confidence that COVID-19 likely emerged after being transmitted from an animal to a human, and two other agencies have not reached a determination one way or the other.
Trump, who is running for president again in 2024, accused China of a cover-up and wrote that “some say” the cost of the outbreak exceeds $50 trillion, although it’s not clear where that figure comes from. The International Monetary Fund estimated last year the pandemic’s impact on the global economy will be $12.5 trillion through 2024.
“Now it's time to hold China—and the corrupt forces who have facilitated this colossal suppression of facts—accountable for the damage they have inflicted upon all of humanity,” Trump wrote.
He did not say how much he thinks China should pay in damages.
Trump indicated that he feels vindicated by the Energy Department and FBI findings.
“When I first suggested in early 2020 that the virus may have come from a lab, it was called 'racist,' a 'conspiracy theory,' and a claim for which 'there is no evidence,” he wrote.
Trump blasted the World Health Organization, the news media, social media companies, and former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci of working to “silence, censor, and shut down any suggestion that the so-called 'lab leak theory' could be true.” He also claimed Biden “shut down the investigation my administration had launched into the true origins of the China virus.”
Trump claimed they were all motivated by “political agendas” and were doing “the Chinese Communist Party's dirty work.”
While views of the lab-leak theory have shifted since the early months of the pandemic, when it was dismissed by many officials, health experts and social media platforms as a conspiracy theory, Biden, shortly after taking office, ordered the intelligence community “to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion.” The intelligence report, however, failed to produce a consensus.
The Biden administration did terminate one closely held State Department inquiry into COVID-19 origins over concerns that it was a politicized effort by the Trump administration to blame China and cherry-pick facts, CNN reported in 2021.
Fauci never dismissed the lab-leak theory, but said in 2020 the evidence “very, very strongly” leaned against it. In May 2021, however, he said was “not convinced” the virus developed naturally and called for further investigation.
The WHO concluded in February 2021 that a lab origin for COVID-19 is “extremely unlikely,” although that investigation was quickly and sharply criticized by the Biden administration for lacking transparency.
Trump was correct in accusing Facebook and Twitter of labeling posts promoting the lab-leak theory as misinformation. Facebook stopped removing such posts in May 2021. Twitter stopped policing all types of potential COVID-19 misinformation last November.
“There must now be a reckoning,” Trump wrote. “The sinister censorship regimes in the United States and throughout the West must be dismantled and destroyed.
“This scandal is the best possible reminder of why we must have free speech.”