Thursday, a president who scoffs at the firm conclusions of the intelligence community when they don’t fit his prepackaged narrative said he has a “high degree of confidence” that coronavirus came from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. Asked to elaborate, Donald Trump demurred, “I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
Sorry: No Trump assertion can be taken at face value, especially not one that, if true, would instantly reshape global geopolitics.
The president’s words came the same day as a disturbing New York Times report asserting that spy agencies say the White House is pressuring them to find evidence connecting the lab to the COVID-19 scourge.
And after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the intelligence community “will continue to 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.” The agencies, the statement said, concur “with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.”
To be clear: China failed the world in too many ways to count when the novel coronavirus emerged. It covered up evidence. It tolerated and still tolerates wet markets that are a likely candidate for how the disease first passed from animals to humans. It enabled the disease to spread.
The notion that a Chinese government lab has direct culpability is not an outlandish conspiracy theory. But it demands hard evidence, subject to public scrutiny.