On May 9, 18 Republican attorneys general asked Congress to investigate “the communist Chinese Government and its role in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Congressional hearings are critical to our Nation’s understanding of the origins of COVID-19 and efforts by the communist Chinese government to deceive the international community,” they wrote.
The short letter was drafted by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, and subsequently signed by the attorneys general of 17 further states, including Texas and Missouri. It was addressed to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as to the Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers of Congress.
Wilson explained why only Republican attorneys general signed the letter.
“We wanted to get this letter out as quickly as possible. Obviously it was circulated as quickly as possible within our caucus, but it is not exclusive of Democrats. I know that many Democratic AGs have questions much like we do,” he said.
“We would certainly ask our Democratic colleagues to join us and I’m sure that many of them have the same questions that we do,” Wilson added. “I don’t want the letter to be viewed as a partisan letter because in the letter we’re not out there attacking anybody on a partisan level. We’re Americans, and we want to know what China did that led to this pandemic.”
The attorneys general wrote, “Recent reports suggest that the communist Chinese government willfully and knowingly concealed information about the severity of the virus while simultaneously stockpiling personal protective equipment.” They explicitly referred to comments made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
According to Pompeo, there is “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus first came from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. “I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Pompeo told ABC’s “This Week” on May 3.
At the time, Pompeo did not comment on whether the virus was intentionally released by the Chinese institution, or whether it was an accident. “I can’t answer your question about that, because the Chinese Communist Party has refused to cooperate with world health experts.”
Throughout the interview, Pompeo went after the Chinese Communist Party for the way it handled information about the coronavirus outbreak.
“We can confirm that the Chinese Communist Party did all that it could to make sure that the world didn’t learn in a timely fashion about what was taking place,” the Secretary of State emphasized.
“China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories,” he said. “These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab. And so, while the intelligence community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that, and verify, so that we are certain.”
An intelligence report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claimed that China “intentionally concealed the severity” of the coronavirus in early January.
“Not classified but marked ‘for official use only,’ the DHS analysis states that, while downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies,” the Associated Press reported. “It attempted to cover up doing so by ‘denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data,’ the analysis states.”
The attorneys general also briefly referred to the World Health Organization (WHO) and its relationship to China. As a consequence of this relationship, President Donald Trump has already halted funding to the WHO, which is part of the United Nations.
While China was deceiving the world on the virus, the letter to congressional leaders continued, “COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our states and the Nation. We must all hold China accountable for the devastation and destruction caused by COVID-19.”
Speaking of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the attorneys general said, “Tens of thousands have died from the virus and millions have lost their jobs. Countless businesses, both big and small, will perish and our states will grapple with tough economic decisions for years to come.”
One of the 18 signatories, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, has already filed a lawsuit against China on April 21.
“COVID-19 has done irreparable damage to countries across the globe, causing sickness, death, economic disruption, and human suffering,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement at the time.
“In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real – thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table,” he continued.
“The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease,” Schmitt said. For that reason, he argued, China must be “held accountable.”
According to the state of Missouri, “the key factual allegations are that in the critical weeks between December 2019 and January 23, 2020, the Chinese Government engaged in misrepresentations, concealment, and retaliation to conceal the gravity and seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak from the rest of the world.”
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