During an appearance on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was all over the map while answering an extremely important question — was the coronavirus man-made in a laboratory in Wuhan, China?
“There’s enormous evidence that that’s where this began… I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Secretary Pompeo told host Martha Raddatz when asked if he’s seen anything that gives him “high confidence” that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan laboratory.
The secretary’s initial answer to Raddatz flies in the face of what the U.S. intelligence community announced just this week.
“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 Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said in a statement on Thursday.
Pompeo then asserted his claim again when Raddatz asked flatly, “Do you believe it was man-made or genetically modified?”
“Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” the secretary answered.
Raddatz then pointed out to Pompeo that he was contradicting the ODNI’s own statement, repeating their conclusions that “the scientific consensus was that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.”
But Pompeo wasn’t done confusing matters, saying, “That’s right. I agree with that. Yes. I’ve seen their analysis. I’ve seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly. I have no reason to doubt that that is accurate at this point.”
Raddatz made another attempt to set the secretary’s story straight, asking again, “OK, so just to be clear, you do not think it was man-made or genetically modified?”
Pompeo seemingly steadied now, answered, “I’ve seen what the intelligence community has said. I have no reason to believe that they’ve got it wrong.”
But the secretary went on and muddied the waters one last time after the host asked Pompeo while ending the interview, “Do you think China intentionally released the virus, or it was an accident in the lab?”
Pompeo said, “No one’s been allowed to go to this lab or any of the other laboratories… So I can’t answer your question about that because the Chinese communist party has refused to cooperate with world health experts.”
Granted, even the ODNI said the investigation into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing. But Pompeo’s mixed messages line up perfectly with the Trump administration’s continued attempts to raise unsubstantiated theories regarding China’s culpability with the virus, a tact that allies of the president hope will deflect criticism of his mishandling of the crisis and help his reelection chances.