Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday repeated a conspiracy theory alleging that Chinese scientists made the coronavirus — which has killed nearly 250,000 people worldwide — in a lab, contradicting findings by the intelligence community.
While he was appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” host Martha Raddatz asked Pompeo if he believed the virus was “manmade or genetically modified.” In response, Pompeo said, “The best experts so far seem to think it was manmade” and claimed he had “no reason to disbelieve that at this point.”
Last week, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced that the intelligence community had concluded that the virus was not manmade or genetically modified.
When Raddatz cited those findings, Pompeo said that, generally, he “agreed” with them. He then refused to say whether he personally believes Chinese scientists made the virus in a lab, or whether they deliberately released the virus.
“I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Pompeo claimed.
He later intimated that Chinese scientists may have released the virus intentionally.
“I don’t have anything to say about that. I think there’s a lot to know,” Pompeo said.
After initially referring to the coronavirus as a “hoax” designed by Democrats to discredit President Donald Trump and downplaying its threat to Americans, the president and several members of his administration have publicly criticized China in recent months, even as the administration is being widely blamed for the country’s belated response to the pandemic.
But while health officials in China and around the world have called the Chinese government’s response to the coronavirus veiled and at times dishonest, Trump himself has also praised the Chinese government’s handling of the disease in the past few months.
In a Jan. 24 tweet, Trump said, “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency.”
“It will all work out well,” he added. “In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”
- Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
- What happens if we end social distancing too soon?
- What you need to know about face masks right now
- Will there be a second stimulus check?
- Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
- Why it takes so long to make a coronavirus vaccine
- Parenting during the coronavirus crisis?
- The HuffPost guide to working from home
- What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.