United States President Donald Trump has contradicted a statement from his own intelligence community by claiming he had seen evidence that proved the novel coronavirus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China. He, however, declined to provide details to validate his assertion.
The remark came in the wake of a public statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — which stated that no such assessment had been made. The US intelligence community in fact said that it “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified”.
Trump, however, told reporters: “I have seen the evidence. I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
US and China have been at loggerheads ever since the outbreak burgeoned into a global pandemic. Trump officials have been pushing the US intelligence community to determine the exact origins of the coronavirus outbreak in pursuit of an unproven theory that the pandemic started because of a laboratory accident in China.
To this end, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement stating the intelligence community was exploring two possibilities but cannot yet assess if the outbreak “was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan” or began “through contact with infected animals.”
Scientists and intelligence professionals have even warned that the US may never know the precise origin of the virus.
The New York Times earlier reported that a number of top officials in the Trump administration had pushed US intelligence agencies looking into the origin of the novel coronavirus to “hunt for evidence” linking the virus to a Chinese laboratory.
To this end, Trump, when asked about the US intel report, said, “Well I haven’t seen the report yet, but I will tell you, if you speak to the head of intelligence right now, you speak to the head, they did say that I was given a briefing when I said I was given it, not before and they also said that it wasn’t specific and it was not a panicked briefing.”
This also corroborates Trump’s tenuous relationship with the intelligence community — dating back to the earliest days of his presidency as he has routinely questioned their assessments, particularly their conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.