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QUESTION:  Now this comes as a bombshell new article from The Washington Post is reporting the U.S. State Department has long been worried about a research facility in Wuhan province in China.  According to the Post, State Department officials in China, quote, “sent two official warnings back to Washington about inadequate safety at the lab which was conducting risky studies on coronavirus.”  Washington Post is reporting that.  To date, there is no firm evidence that the current pandemic originated in that lab, but questions are mounting.

Here now with the answers to that question and more is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  I’ve been reading these internet rumors – well, that’s a conspiracy theory, made in a lab.  And I’m not saying that that’s saying that, because I thought SARS was 98 percent the same genetic material as of my reading, but I’m beginning to think that something go crazy here, maybe the – is there something that we’re missing?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Sean, it’s great to be with you.  Here’s what we know.  Here’s the facts.  The facts are you talked about the World Health Organization.  They had access.  The Chinese Communist Party didn’t give Americans access when we needed it in that most timely point at the very beginning.  The President talked about that today.  And then we know they have this lab.  We know about the wet markets.  We know that the virus itself did originate in Wuhan.  So all those things come together.

There’s still a lot we don’t know, and this is what the President was talking about today.  We need to know answers to these things.  We still have this virus out there.  You talked about trying to get the economy going not only here in the United States but around the world.  We need answers to these questions, we need transparency, and we need the World Health Organization to do its job, to perform its primary function, which is to make sure that the world has accurate, timely, effective, real information about what’s going on in the global health space.  And they didn’t get that done here.

QUESTION:  They only noticed the virus on December 30th last year with pneumonia-like symptoms.  We only called the coronavirus January 7th.  The first case in the U.S., January 21st.  Travel ban and the first quarantine in 50 years in this country 10 days after the first known case in America.

Now, Democrats in the media won’t give this President credit.  To me, it’s incalculable how much worse this would be, how many American – thousands of Americans did not get the virus and exponentially die.  Why don’t they get the credit that he deserves?  That was a gutsy move and he was brutalized for it.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Sean, it was a difficult decision.  The President made the absolute right call.  Frankly, he did it in the face of a World Health Organization that suggested that such a restriction was unnecessary.  We know that it benefited the world and it benefited America.  It’s absolutely saved lives.

You will recall too that the World Health Organization declined to call this a pandemic for an awfully long time because, frankly, the Chinese Communist Party didn’t want that to happen.  We need a health organization that’s going to deliver good outcomes for the world and not do the bidding of any single country.  We need accurate information and transparent information.  We didn’t get it.  The world didn’t get that.

QUESTION:  I would like to know – when the head of the World Health Organization went on the attack, I was like, really?  You failed the world.  There was that UK study – I’m sure you saw it – 95 percent of this could have been prevented.  You said on this show if you got a call from China you would have said we’ll help you any way we can.  You even offered to help Iran because it’s in the best interest of the world.  Why didn’t they ask for help, and what is happening behind the scenes?  Can you enlighten us?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I can’t answer the question about the why.  We also know about this same time there were those inside of China, medical professionals there, who didn’t – who tried to tell the story and were silenced.  We know that they’ve – the Chinese Communist Party has required journalists to leave there.

What we need – the Chinese say they want cooperation.  We want that too.  But to cooperate you have to have information, you have to have data, you have to have transparency.  Those are the elements of cooperation.  We still want China to do that.  We still need information about what actually took place there.  It’s not just in the past.  This continues, and the need for this information continues to this day.  It’ll help save lives, Sean.

QUESTION:  All right, let me ask you this, and I only have about 40 seconds.  I heard when the President decided 10 days after the first corona case in the U.S. that there were 20-some-odd people talking about the travel ban, I hear not many people agreed with him, if any.  Were you aware of that?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Sean, I never talk about internal discussions, but I can say this:  The President made a decision.  He evaluated all the facts out there.  It was a bold decision, the right decision, and it saved American lives.  The American people ought to know that.  I hope that will get reported widely.

QUESTION:  I just gave you a chance to tell the story and break news.  You didn’t do it.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  (Laughter.)  All right, Sean.  Maybe next time.  Thanks.

QUESTION:  The last time I said you were number one at – where did you – you went to West Point.  Last time I think I said you went somewhere else.  I apologize.  But you were number one in your class.  I was right about that.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I was a good student, Sean.  That’s very kind.  Thank you.

QUESTION:  All right, thanks for all you do.  We appreciate it.


U.S. Department of State

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