Former President Donald Trump thinks it's high time for reparations. So long as they come from China, that is.
In a speech Saturday night at the North Carolina Republican state convention, Trump said Beijing owes "reparations" to the world for how the Chinese government handled the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak -- especially as the possibility the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, previously seen as a fringe theory by the mainstream media, seems anything but fringe now.
Trump's comments came as he discussed his history with Dr. Anthony Fauci; the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who became the nation's de facto coronavirus guru, frequently butted heads with Trump.
"Fauci has, perhaps, never been more wrong than when he denied the virus and where it came from," Trump said during the speech, according to a Rev.com transcript of his remarks.
"The time has come for America and the world to demand reparations and accountability from the Communist Party of China. We should all declare within one unified voice that China must pay. They must pay."
Trump suggested using tariffs to raise the money if China is recalcitrant, saying "the United States should immediately take steps to phase in a firm 100 percent tariff on all goods made in China."
TRUMP: "The time has come for America and the world to demand reparations and accountability from the Communist Party of China... China must pay." pic.twitter.com/t1u9YRBo0D
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) June 6, 2021
In a statement Trump emailed to his supporters in the aftermath of Fauci's emails being released to the public -- emails that showed the NIAID director had been alerted to the possibility that the coronavirus had been engineered while he was downplaying it publicly -- Trump also floated the possibility of reparations:
President Trump to China: you owe us $10 trillion in biological war reparations.
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) June 3, 2021
"Now everyone, even the so-called 'enemy,' are beginning to say that President Trump was right about the China Virus coming from the Wuhan Lab," Trump said in the statement. "The correspondence between Dr. Fauci and China speaks too loudly for anyone to ignore. China should pay Ten Trillion Dollars to America, and the World, for the death and destruction they have caused!"
While the statement makes assumptions that haven't necessarily been backed up by definitive proof, Trump's remarks stand in stark contrast to how President Joe Biden's White House has been handling the events of the past few weeks.
As The Washington Post noted in its timeline of the lab-leak theory, the reasoning behind it stemmed from the fact the Wuhan Institute of Virology worked with bat coronaviruses and, according to U.S. intelligence cables, had questionable safety practices. Several of the individuals who got ill in the first round of COVID cases had no connection to the so-called "wet market" which was blamed for the outbreak.
Yet, as early as Feb. 9, the World Health Organization declared that the lab-leak theory was bunk.
“The findings suggest that the laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain introduction of the virus into the human population," a joint report by the WHO and China found, the Post reported.
However, evidence began to quietly turn the "conspiracy theory" into a plausible possibility as to how COVID-19 originated. Several scientific papers last year cast doubt on the likelihood of a purely natural origin and noted that the closest known coronavirus to SARS-CoV-2 -- RaTG13, a bat coronavirus discovered in China in 2012 after several miners in China became ill with it -- was stored at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
On May 23, The Wall Street Journal reported that, according to a U.S. intelligence report, three workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became ill enough to seek hospital care in November of 2019. That's roughly the same period epidemiologists think the virus began circulating.
On May 26, President Biden announced he'd "asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion" on the origins of the virus "and to report back to me in 90 days.”
This isn't as promising as it sounds, however. On the same day Biden made that announcement, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked during a media briefing whom the United States was going to work with to get answers. Why, the WHO, of course.
“Look, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken, I think, 1.3 million lives globally; 600,000 American lives, about. And it’s imperative that we get to the bottom of just where the pandemic originated — not just for the purposes of understanding this pandemic, but the pandemics to come, as I’ve already, kind of, alluded to,” she said, according to a White House transcript.
“And so this is something that we’re going to, you know, continue to have conversations on. This is a global effort. It’s not just United States alone as we’re working with the WHO. This is our process here with the 90-day — that I just mentioned — review. But we’re just going to continue to work with WHO, and — and WHO is going to continue to — to work with China on this.”
Biden Principal Deputy Press Secretary on COVID origins investigation: “W.H.O. is going to continue to work with China” pic.twitter.com/Wb3LBA5il4
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 26, 2021
Why would China cooperate?
“You know, this is — this is something that you have to ask the Chinese government, right?” Jean-Pierre said. “This is something that should be impor- — it should — should matter to them — but this is a question for them, as well.”
Meanwhile, here's your WHO at work:
Biden wants the WHO to lead the investigation into whether COVID came from a Wuhan lab.
The WHO’s lead investigator admitted he took China’s word on COVID’s origins, saying:
“Well, what else can we do?” pic.twitter.com/ZVBXIkJ3nj
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 26, 2021
They couldn't examine evidence or anything like that. They just took China's word for it. I mean, what else could they do?
Which do you think has a better chance of getting results: A 90-day review with the same ineffectual WHO or a president who demands reparations and tariffs if China doesn't cooperate?
If the Communist Party in Beijing continues to obfuscate on the origins of the virus, we'll need serious action, not just words -- and we'll need a president willing to make China pay reparations if it continues to stonewall or hide the origins of the virus. That president is not Joe Biden.