Pompeo: Can't Know If Coronavirus Is A Bioweapon Or A Lab Accident Because "Chinese Communist Party Continues To Block Access" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Pompeo: Can't Know If Coronavirus Is A Bioweapon Or A Lab Accident Because "Chinese Communist Party Continues To Block Access"

|

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was extremely unclear about his position on the coronavirus being "manmade" or being a lab accident during an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week." First, Pompeo stated directly that "the best experts so far seem to think it was manmade" before seeming to reverse his position in an unclear manner when asked about it, and then going on to say China has "a history of infecting the world and they have a history of running substandard laboratories."

ABC's Martha Raddatz asked Pompeo: "Have you seen anything that gives you high confidence that it originated in that Wuhan lab?"

"There's enormous evidence that that's where this began," he replied. "We've said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China. We took a lot of grief for that from the outset, but I think the whole world can see now."

"Do you believe it was manmade or genetically modified?" Raddatz followed up.

"Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was manmade. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point," Pompeo said. "You have to put this in context. Here's -- here's what's -- here's what's important, Martha. Here's what's important. The Chinese communist party had the opportunity to prevent all of the calamity that has befallen the world."

"This is an enormous crisis created by the fact that the Chinese communist party reverted to form, reverted to the kinds of disinformation, the kinds of concealment that authoritarian regimes do. Had those scientists been operating in America, they would have put this out. There would have been an exchange of ideas and we would have quickly identified the kinds of things that needed to be done in response."

"We still need to get in there. We still don't have the virus samples we need. This is an ongoing threat, an ongoing pandemic and the Chinese communist party continues to block access to the western world, the world's best scientists, to figure out exactly what happened," Pompeo explained. "So I can't answer your question about that because the Chinese communist party has refused to cooperate with world health experts."

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: And -- and as for the origins of COVID-19, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement this week saying the virus did originate in China, but concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified. The statement going on to say that they will continue to examine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident in a laboratory in Wuhan.

Later, the president was asked if he had seen anything that gave him high confidence that the Wuhan lab was the origin of the virus. Let's listen.

QUESTION: Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I have. Yes, I have.

QUESTION: What gives you a high degree of confidence that this originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

TRUMP: I can't tell you that. I'm not allowed to tell you that.


RADDATZ: And, Mr. Secretary, have you seen anything that gives you high confidence that it originated in that Wuhan lab?

POMPEO: Martha, there's enormous evidence that that's where this began. We've said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China. We took a lot of grief for that from the outset, but I think the whole world can see now.

Remember, China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories. These are not the first times that we've had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.

And so, while the intelligence community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that and verify so that we are certain. I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.

RADDATZ: Do you believe it was manmade or genetically modified?

POMPEO: Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was manmade. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point.

RADDATZ: Your -- your Office of the DNI says the consensus, the scientific consensus was not manmade or genetically modified.

POMPEO: That's right. I -- I -- I agree with that. Yes. I've -- I've seen their analysis. I've seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly. I have no reason to doubt that that is accurate at this point.

RADDATZ: OK, so just to be clear, you do not think it was manmade or genetically modified?

POMPEO: I've seen what the intelligence community has said. I have no reason to believe that they've got it wrong.

RADDATZ: And --

POMPEO: Martha, you have to put this in context. Here's -- here's what's -- here's what's important, Martha. Here's what's important. The Chinese communist party had the opportunity to prevent all of the calamity that has befallen the world. And here we find ourselves today -- you and I were talking about it. We haven't seen each other physically for a long time. That's true of people all across the world.

This is an enormous crisis created by the fact that the Chinese communist party reverted to form, reverted to the kinds of disinformation, the kinds of concealment that authoritarian regimes do. Had those scientists been operating in America, they would have put this out. There would have been an exchange of ideas and we would have quickly identified the kinds of things that needed to be done in response.

Instead, China behaved like authoritarian regimes do, attempted to conceal and hide and confuse. It employed the World Health Organization as a tool to do the same. These are the kind of things that have now presented this enormous crisis, an enormous loss of life and tremendous economic cost all across the globe.

The Australians agree with that. You hear the Europeans beginning to say the same thing. I think the whole world is united in understanding that China brought this virus to the world.

RADDATZ: And -- and, just very quickly if we can, Mr. Secretary, we're running out of time, do you think they intentionally released that virus or it was an accident in the lab?

POMPEO: You know, I don't have anything to say about that. I think there's a lot to know. But I can say this. we've done our best to try and answer all of those questions. We tried to get a team in there, the World Health Organization tried to get a team in there, and they have failed. No one's been allowed to go to this lab or any of the other laboratories. There are many labs inside of China, Martha. This risk remains. This is an ongoing challenge.

We still need to get in there. We still don't have the virus samples we need. This is an ongoing threat, an ongoing pandemic and the Chinese communist party continues to block access to the western world, the world's best scientists, to figure out exactly what happened.

So I can't answer your question about that because the Chinese communist party has refused to cooperate with world health experts.



Comment
Show comments Hide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives