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WH orders investigation to prove China covered up coronavirus threat
White House orders massive investigation by intelligence agencies in hunt for evidence China covered up the danger of coronavirus as Donald Trump steps up efforts to blame Beijing
The White House directed at least three intelligence agencies to investigate whether China hid the emerging coronavirus threat from the rest of the world
The ‘tasking’ was sent to NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, which includes the National Center for Medical Agency and the CIA
Donald Trump continues to blame China for the severity of the virus in the U.S.
He claims Beijing hid the virus’ emergence from Wuhan earlier this year lied about the severity
He appeared to reference the investigations on Tuesday
‘We’re doing very serious investigations,’ Trump told the press
‘We are not happy with that whole situation, because we believe it could have been stopped at the source… and it wouldn’t have spread all over the world’
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The White House has ordered intelligence investigations into whether China initially downplayed and hid the emerging coronavirus threat, a Wednesday report revealed, as Donald Trump continues to place blame for the size of the pandemic.
Intelligence agencies received directives from the White House last week seeking information on the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, including communication intercepts, human source reporting and satellite imagery reviews, current and former officials familiar with the directions told NBC News.
One official revealed that the ‘tasking’ was sent last week to the National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency, which includes the National Center for Medical Agency.
The CIA also received a similar request, the officials said.
Trump appeared to make reference to the orders during his Monday press conference at the White House.
‘We’re doing very serious investigations,’ the president said during his nearly-daily briefing. ‘We are not happy with that whole situation, because we believe it could have been stopped at the source, it could have been stopped quickly, and it wouldn’t have spread all over the world.’
The CIA, NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency were tasked by the White House with investigating whether China initially hid what it knew about the coronavirus threat earlier on in the outbreak. Current and former officials say the agencies were told to conduct communication intercepts, human source reporting and review satellite imagery
Donald Trump has blamed China for the virus spreading, claiming it would have been less severe if Beijing was transparent about the virus and it’s origins in Wuhan, which is in China’s Hubei province
‘We’re doing very serious investigations,’ Trump said Tuesday. ‘We are not happy with that whole situation, because we believe it could have been stopped at the source, it could have been stopped quickly, and it wouldn’t have spread all over the world’
The U.S. has reported the most confirmed cases of any other country, surpassing 1 million this week. But the Trump administration has claimed China has been dishonest in its reporting
Trump has praised his administration for stopping travel from China early on in the outbreak, claiming it would be much worse if he had not done that
The president continues to deflect blame for the coronavirus crisis in the U.S., claiming it would have been less severe if Beijing were more forthcoming with the severity of the virus in China toward the end of last year.
He has also often showered praise on himself and his administration for shutting down travel from China in the early stages of the outbreak.
Trump blaming China for America’s economic struggles has proven effective with his political base as the president struggles to campaign without his stadium-filling rallies.
‘The president is now running against China as much as anyone,’ a person close to the president told NBC.
This week, the U.S. surpassed 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, which is more than any other country has reported and about one-third of the amount of cases worldwide. As of Tuesday night, there are more than 58,000 deaths in the U.S. from coronavirus.
Trump insists that Beijing is not accurately reporting the number of cases and deaths coming from China, claiming if they were honest, their numbers would be much higher than any other country.
He has also suggested that China compensate the U.S., and possibly other countries, for coronavirus damages. The disease originated in Wuhan, which is in China’s Hubei province, and began spreading to the rest of the world earlier this year.
Coronavirus originated in Wuhan and spread to the rest of the world earlier this year, but intelligence has revealed the threat of the virus was known in China before its widespread infection rate
Lawmakers have begun pushing for sending the bill to China as well while the U.S. continues to slip into a depression with record-high unemployment levels with over 26 million people filing for benefits in five weeks and a staggering market loss over the past two months.
Chinese officials, however, claim demanding China pay for the virus’ impact is ‘blackmail.’
‘Asking China to make reparations for these kind of claims – they have no legal basis. There is no international law that support blaming a country for simply being the first to report a disease,’ China’s Executive Vice Foreign Minister told NBC News in an interview that aired Wednesday morning.
As part of the administration’s instructions, intelligence agencies were also tasked with determining if the World Health Organization knew about any labs studying coronaviruses in Wuhan.
Trump has accused the WHO of hiding the severity of the pandemic in early January when it reported no evidence of human-to-human transmission. By mid-January, the WHO stopped making that claim as the virus spread beyond China.
Earlier this month, the president suspended $500 million in U.S. funding to the WHO as he accused it of allowing China to exercise influence over the agency.
When asked during his Tuesday briefing to clarify what intelligence officials told him in January and February, Trump said: ‘I would have to check.’
‘I want to look to the exact dates of warnings,’ he continued.