Members of the Trump administration, including the president, have pushed a theory that the coronavirus originated not in a Wuhan, China, wet market, but a lab. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday there is "significant" evidence that is the case, even though the United States intelligence community has yet to release a formal assessment on the matter.
Very noteworthy: Sec Pompeo, frmr CIA director, is leaning into an outcome *before* the IC has a formal assessment. Last wk ODNI said they cannot yet assess if the outbreak "was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan" or began "through contact with infected animals." https://t.co/X2LncSbL1e
— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) May 3, 2020
Pompeo's stances on the location of origin, and China's purported efforts to cover up the epidemic's severity at early stages, were clear, but his responses about whether the virus was man-made waffled.
At first, The Guardian notes, he told the host of ABC's This Week, Martha Raddatz, that he has "no reason to disbelieve" experts who think it was genetically modified. But when Raddatz pointed out the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the scientific consensus is that the virus was not man-made, Pompeo agreed with that, too. Raddatz tried to clarify one last time, recalibrating the question a bit to see if Pompeo thinks the virus was intentionally released from the lab. The secretary said he doesn't "have anything to say about that."
Critics have pointed out that by leaning into President Trump's rhetoric, Pompeo is setting a potentially worrisome precedent.
This is @SecPompeo saying he wants a particular answer from the IC more than he wants the truth. This creates enormous adverse incentives for people to tell Pompeo and Trump what they want to hear. https://t.co/zxwuqNrCd1
— Jeffrey Lewis (@ArmsControlWonk) May 3, 2020
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