The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) on Thursday issued a rare, unanimous Intelligence Community (IC) statement on the origins of the novel coronavirus, confirming that the IC is investigating whether the outbreak “began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
“The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China,” the ODNI statement reads.
“The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified,” it continues, adding that the virus originating at the lab, specifically, remains a possibility:
As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security. The IC 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 rare, unanimous statement calls Wednesday’s NBC News report — which, citing “current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter,” stated that the Trump administration pushed the U.S. spy agencies to investigate China’s purported cover-up — an investigation that, as the statement suggests, has already been ongoing.
Similarly, the New York Times on Thursday reported that the Trump administration had been dumping pressure on intelligence agencies to “hunt for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that a government laboratory in Wuhan, China, was the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, according to current and former American officials.”
However, Thursday’s ODNI statement effectively debunks that narrative as well, as the IC pledged to “continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence” to determine if the outbreak was the result of contact with an infected animal or “an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” lending credence to what the Times referred to as an “unsubstantiated” theory.
Thursday’s statement is coincides with the latest from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which informed the EcoHealth Alliance — which used a taxpayer grant to provide U.S. tax dollars to the Wuhan lab — that federal investigators are looking into the matter, as detailed by Breitbart News:
“EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. is the recipient, as grantee, of an NIH grant entitled ‘Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergency,’” Lauer wrote in the letter, dated April 19. “It is our understanding that one of the sub-recipients of the grant funds is the Wuhan Institute of Virology (‘WIV’). It is our understanding that WIV studies the interaction between corona viruses and bats. The scientific community believes that the coronavirus causing COVID-19 jumped from bats to humans likely in Wuhan where the COVID-19 pandemic began. There are now allegations that the current crisis was precipitated by the release from WIV of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. Given these concerns, we are pursuing suspension of WIV from participation in Federal programs.”
The letter continues in the next paragraph by further explaining the investigation.
“While we review these allegations during the period of suspension, you are instructed to cease providing any funds from the above noted grant to the WIV,” Lauer continues. “This temporary action is authorized by 45 C.F.R. § 75.371 (d) (‘Initiate suspension or debarment proceedings as authorized under 2 C.F.R. part 180’). The incorporated OMB provision provides that the federal funding agency, through suspension, immediately and temporarily exclude from Federal programs persons who are not presently responsible where ‘immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest.’ 2 C.F.R. § 180.700 (c).”
President Trump this week stressed the importance of holding China accountable for the spread of the outbreak and confirmed that there are “very serious investigations” underway.
“There are a lot of ways you can hold them accountable. We’re doing very serious investigations, as you probably know. And we are not happy with China,” Trump told Breitbart News Senior White House Correspondent Charlie Spiering during Monday’s 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,” he continued.
“And we think that should have happened. So we’ll let you know at the appropriate time, but we are doing serious investigations,” Trump added.