Where did the coronavirus come from? The Trump administration says it wants answers to this question—but conflicting statements from U.S. leaders are further undercutting the credibility of U.S. intelligence on the pandemic. Even more worrisome, reporting suggests that political pressure may be shaping U.S. intelligence analysis on the subject. This is dangerous for many reasons. But in this moment of crisis and uncertainty, these dynamics may also have strategic consequences for the United States on the world stage.
When President Trump was asked during one of his latest briefings whether he had seen anything that gave him “a high degree of confidence” that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the point of origin for the pandemic, he replied simply, “Yes, I have,” yet declined to provide any details on the basis or evidence for that claim. Shortly thereafter, in the same briefing on April 30, the president backtracked, saying, “[W]e have people looking at it very, very strongly …. I think we will have a very good answer eventually.”
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