It has been said that the truth is what you can get people to believe, and it is clear that the Trump administration is hell-bent to convince the American people that the coronavirus was leaked from a China bioweapons lab.
We have no evidence for this and it hardly matters how the virus reached the United States, but Trump needs to distract the American people from his bumbling response to the pandemic. He’s trying to do that by painting China as the bad guy.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is the latest to repeat the party line, claiming May 3 on ABC’s “This Week” program that he has seen “enormous evidence” that a laboratory in Wuhan, China, is the source of the virus. “I can tell you there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” he said, but declined to go into specifics about the evidence.
That’s quite a change from just three days earlier, when he told WHO radio in Des Moines, Iowa, the U.S. didn’t know where the virus first started infecting people. “We don’t know if it came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We don’t know if it emanated from the wet market or yet some other place. We don’t know those answers.”
So what changed in three days? The State Department didn’t respond to press inquiries on whether Pompeo was provided with new information during those three days. What likely happened is that Pompeo was told to get on board with the administration’s narrative, regardless of the evidence.
As is usually the case with this administration, contradictory statements are coming forth from the president. Trump has said he has evidence the virus escaped from the Wuhan laboratory, but won’t detail that evidence: “I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
But Saturday at the Fox News town hall, he called for greater transparency on the part of China when it comes to explaining the origin of the virus. “We want to know what happened,” he said.
The truth is we don’t know. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the virus is not man-made, but have drawn no other conclusions. The so-called Five Eyes—the spy agencies of the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada—have concluded it’s “highly unlikely” the pandemic resulted from a lab accident.
The reality is the case for any possible origin is largely circumstantial because the U.S. has very little information from the ground to backup the lab escape theory. Any theory put forward now is just inference drawn from open-source reports available to all.
But that won’t stop the Trump administration and its media lackeys from suggesting China executed a plot to take down the U.S.—anything to draw attention away from the administration’s fumblin’, stumblin’ response to the pandemic.
This effort may be too late because several polls show a majority of Americans believe Trump did a poor job handling the pandemic. But Trump needs a villain to run against in November while he tries to convince voters he’s the guy to put China in its place and revive the economy.