President Donald Trump.

Associated Press

President Trump said Thursday that he has evidence showing that the coronavirus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China, but he can’t share what it is.

“I can’t tell you that,” Trump said when a reporter asked what information gave him a “high degree of confidence” that the virus came from the lab. “I’m not allowed to tell you that.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence put out a statement Thursday saying the US intelligence community agrees with the “wide scientific consensus” that the coronavirus was not “manmade or genetically modified.”

The statement said intelligence agencies will continue to “rigorously examine” whether the virus was “the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”

Multiple intelligence officials told The New York Times, Politico, and other outlets that there is no evidence so far to back up the theory that the coronavirus was created in or escaped from a Wuhan lab.

Sources also told The Times that Trump administration officials are pressuring US spies to link the virus to the lab, and one former official described senior aides’ repeated emphasis of the lab theory as “conclusion shopping.”

Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he has evidence showing that the coronavirus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China, but he can’t share what it is.

Fox News reporter John Roberts asked Trump whether he has seen any evidence to date that gives him a “high degree of confidence” that the virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Related: Why Some Viruses Jump From Animals to People

“Yes, I have,” Trump said, before going on a tangent about the World Health Organization and accusing the group of being a “public relations agency for China.”

“They shouldn’t be making excuses when people make horrible mistakes,” Trump said. “Especially mistakes that are causing hundreds of thousands of people around the world to die. I think the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves.”

Story continues

A few minutes later, Roberts pressed Trump again and asked whether he has conclusive evidence that the coronavirus is not a naturally occurring virus.

“You’re talking about the virus and where it came from?” Trump asked, to which Roberts replied in the affirmative.

Here was Trump’s response, verbatim:

“No, we’re going to see where it is. We’re going to see where it comes from. And you know, look, you know every theory. You had the theory from the lab, you had the theory from many different — the bats, the type of bat, and the bat is 40 miles away, so it couldn’t have been here and it couldn’t have been there, and we have a — there’s a lot of theories. But, yeah, we have people looking at it very, very closely. Scientific people, intelligence people and others, and we’re going to put it all together, and I think we’re going to have a very good answer, eventually.”

“And what gives you a high degree of confidence that this originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology?” Roberts asked again.

“I can’t tell you that,” Trump said. “I’m not allowed to tell you that.”

The president’s remarks came after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence put out a statement saying the intelligence community agrees with the “wide scientific consensus” that the coronavirus was not “manmade or genetically modified.”

The statement continued to say the intelligence community will “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.”

Multiple intelligence officials and those familiar with the matter told The New York Times, Politico, and other outlets they have found no hard evidence so far to back up the theory that the novel coronavirus was created in or escaped from a Wuhan lab. 

Sources also told The Times that Trump administration officials are pressuring American spies to link the virus to the lab, and one former intelligence official described senior aides’ repeated emphasis of the lab theory as “conclusion shopping,” a disparaging term analysts use to describe politically motivated demands.

Roberts also asked Trump about the ODNI’s statement on Thursday.

“Who was that, who was that that said that?” Trump replied after Robert brought up the statement.

“The Office of the Director of National Intelligence,” Robert said.

“Yeah, but who in particular, who was the man that made that statement?” the president said.

“It was a statement that the ODNI —” Robert began, before Trump cut him off.

“Oh, he would know that, huh?” Trump said, referring to his handpicked acting director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell. “National intelligence, okay. So we’ll see.”

Business Insider



Source link