Jen Psaki, President Joe Biden’s press secretary, on Monday bristled when a reporter pressed her for answers on whether the White House is doing enough to learn the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked the spokeswoman about a Wall Street Journal article that cited a U.S. intelligence report saying three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in November 2019, a month before China officially reported its first case.
“Why isn’t President Biden pushing for more access, more information to get to the bottom of exactly what happened?” Doocy asked.
“We are,” Psaki said, “and we have repeatedly called for the [World Health Organization] to support an expert-driven, evaluation of the pandemic’s origins that is free from interference or politicization. During that first phase of the investigation, there was not access to data, there was not information provided,” she said. “Now we’re hopeful that WHO can move into a more transparent, independent phase two investigation.”
Doocy followed up, asking: “But with 589,920 dead Americans, at what point does President Biden say we don’t want to wait for the WHO effort, we don’t know what they’re doing, this needs to be an American-led effort to get to the bottom of what happened?”
The reporter pointed out that Biden “talks all the time about how he’s known President Xi for a long time, so why can’t he just call and ask him that information?”
Psaki lost her cool and tried to dress down Doocy.
“I think you’re misunderstanding how this process actually works,” she said. “What we can’t do, and what I would caution anyone doing, is leaping ahead of an actual international process. We don’t have enough data and information to jump to a conclusion at this point in time.”
“What we do share everyone in this country is a desire to know how this started, where it started and prevent it from ever happening again,” she added. “That’s something we all share.”
Last week, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is “possible” the virus has a “lab-based origin.” At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) asked CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky how she thinks the pandemic began. “I don’t believe I’ve seen enough data, individual data for me to be able to comment on that,” Walensky said.
Kennedy then asked about the “possibilities” on where the virus originated: “Certainly the possibilities of, that most coronaviruses that we know of are of origin from, that have infected the population — SARS CoV-1, MERS — generally come from an animal origin.”
“Are there any other possibilities?” Kennedy asked.
“Certainly a lab-based origin is one possibility,” Walensky said.
Also last week, Republican lawmakers, headed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who is the top Republican on the committee, said in a report obtained by Fox News that China has not cooperated with efforts to find out where the virus originated.
“International efforts to discover the true source of the virus, however, have been stymied by a lack of cooperation from the People’s Republic of China,” they wrote in the report. “Nevertheless, significant circumstantial evidence raises serious concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak may have been a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
The report also said the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) military had “involvement” in the lab. The report rejected the long-reported claim that the virus came from bats. “By contrast, little circumstantial evidence has emerged to support the PRC’s claim that COVID-19 was a natural occurrence, having jumped from some other species to human,” the lawmakers wrote.
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