White House won’t say if China will be punished if lab leak theory is proven

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The White House said it hasn’t ruled any theories out yet on COVID-19’s origin but refused to say whether there would be retribution if the tracks led back to a Chinese lab.

“We haven’t ruled out anything yet,” principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in her first time at the briefing podium, when asked whether the virus had emerged in a manner that was “deliberate or not an accident.”

President Biden said earlier Wednesday in a statement that the intelligence community is torn between “two likely scenarios.” He said ‘two elements’ of the Intelligence Community leaned toward the theory that the virus emerged from human contact with an infected animal and one element leaning toward the accidental lab leak theory. “The majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” Biden said, adding that each theory had been assessed with “low to moderate confidence.” 

“Would the president seek to punish China?” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Jean-Pierre, if the lab leak theory were proven. 

“We’re not going to go there just yet,” Jean-Pierre replied, “We have to go through the 90-day review. And once we have the 90-day review, will we be able to reassess.”  Biden earlier said he had asked the intelligence community to “redouble their efforts” to “bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” and get back to him within 90 days. 

Doocy pressed again. “If another nation either was responsible or knew more than they were letting on… What would the president do?” 

“I’m just not going to prejudge. I’m not going to make a statement until, you know, until we know what happens after this 90-day review,” Jean-Pierre replied. 

This week, Fox News learned from a former State Department official that several workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in mid-November 2019, a month before COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, China. The official, who worked at the State Department during the Trump administration, claimed to have been in touch with those contacts at the time and said colleagues also had been in communication with contacts about the issue.

A Wall Street Journal report, citing previously undisclosed U.S. Intelligence, went further and said these workers required hospital care and had symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illness.”

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