Trump Says He's Seen Convincing Evidence that Coronavirus Originated in Wuhan Lab, Threatens Retaliation

President Donald Trump on Thursday said he has seen evidence that gives him a high degree of confidence that the coronavirus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China.

U.S. Intelligence officials on Thursday confirmed they were exploring the possibility that the novel disease leaked from a Wuhan lab, confirming Newsweek's reporting on the subject.

During Trump's remarks on protecting America's seniors at the White House today, a reporter asked the president whether he has seen anything that gives him "a high degree of confidence" that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was where COVID-19 had originated from.

"Yes. Yes, I have," Trump responded. "And I think that the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves, because they're like the public relations agency for China."

"They shouldn't be making excuses when people make horrible mistakes, especially mistakes that are causing hundreds of thousands of people around the world to die," the president continued. "I think the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves."

When asked how confident he feels that it came from a Wuhan lab, Trump declined to answer. "I'm not allowed to tell you that," he said.

Earlier during the event, Trump was asked whether Chinese President Xi Jinping should be held responsible for the coronavirus outbreak. "I don't want to say that, but certainly it could have been stopped," the president said. "I wish they stopped it. The whole world wishes they stopped it."

The White House declined Newsweek's request for further comment.

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump speaks on protecting Americas seniors from the COVID-19 pandemic in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on April 30, 2020. Mandel Ngan/Getty

Beijing and Washington has traded jabs in recent weeks over their respective handling of the global pandemic, with each attempting to shift the blame onto the other.

Four senior Trump administration officials told the Washington Post today that officials have started exploring punishments for China's handling of the outbreak. The report revealed that some officials have suggested the U.S. should wipe some of its debt obligations to Beijing. When asked to comment on Thursday, Trump also threatened the use of tariffs against the mainland as retaliation.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement today maintaining their previous position regarding the absence of human intervention pertaining to virus' outbreak but noted that the origins of the disease will require further examination.

"The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus," the office's statement read. "The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified."

Chinese officials have defended their handling of the outbreak and denied allegations that the virus originated from a lab.

"American politicians have repeatedly ignored the truth and have been telling barefaced lies," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press conference on Tuesday. "They have only one objective: shirk their responsibility for their own poor epidemic prevention and control measures, and divert public attention."

The coronavirus outbreak was initially identified in Wuhan, Hubei in December 2019, before it then spread around the world, killing 233,000 globally as of April 30. Since January, U.S. intelligence officials have proposed various theories about the pandemic's origins.

In the early stages of the outbreak in China, most assessments traced the first cases to an outdoor seafood market in Wuhan. China's aggressive containment methods have since slowed the virus' spread drastically and Beijing has been slowly reopening the country in recent weeks.