President Biden on Wednesday ordered the U.S. intelligence community to “redouble their efforts” to determine the origins of the coronavirus, giving them 90 days to “collect and analyze” information from the revamped investigation to provide a “definitive conclusion.”
“I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion and to report back to me in 90 days,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday.
“I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China. I have also asked that this effort include work by our National Labs and other agencies of our government to augment the Intelligence Community’s efforts,” Biden added.
Biden made the abrupt turnaround following reports emerging just less than a day revealed that his administration torpedoed former President Trump’s own State Department probe that sought to substantiate whether the origins of the COVID leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The “closely-held” investigation led by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was conducted out of the State Department’s arms control and the verification bureau and was shuttered “after Biden officials were briefed on the team’s draft findings in February and March of this year.”
The president stated that the U.S. intelligence community’s current position is “coalesced around two likely scenarios,” predominate their thinking but didn’t provide any details as to what those scenarios are preventing them from reaching “a definitive conclusion on this question.”
“As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question,” Biden said. “Here is their current position: ‘while two elements in the IC leans toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter — each with low or moderate confidence — the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.'”
The White House did not immediately respond to The Floridian request when asked to elaborate further if one of the “two likely scenarios” leaned toward the Wuhan lab leak theory. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which leads the nation’s 18 intelligence agencies, also did not respond to The Floridian’s request for comment.
The increased support for a probe into the Wuhan leak lab theory comes as public health officials and experts have increasingly given credence to the lab-leak theory that has gained traction in recent weeks. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers working at the Wuhan lab would fall ill with symptoms “consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness” back in November 2019.
In the statement, Biden noted that when COVID emerged on the onset of early 2020 as he was the Democratic presidential candidate, he called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “to get access to China to learn about the virus so we could fight it more effectively.”
“The failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation into the origin of COVID-19,” Biden said.
“Nevertheless, shortly after I became President, in March, I had my National Security Advisor task the Intelligence Community to prepare a report on their most up-to-date analysis of the origins of COVID-19, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident,” Biden continued, emphasizing that he received that report earlier this month, and has asked for “additional follow-up.”
He added, “The United States will also keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence.”
Biden would also release the statement after his chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci was grilled by GOP senators during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing about whether they were aware of the Biden administration “spiking” the Trump administration probe.
After releasing the statement, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre sought to explain the reasoning behind Biden reversing course and the timing in calling for a new inquiry to replace the one he nixed.
“This was classified,” Jean-Pierre said during Wednesday’s daily press briefing. “It takes time to declassify something so that we can share with all of you. We’re talking about classified information that the intelligence community was working on.”
When asked if the president would seek to punish China if the intel review finds that the lab leak theory was the actual source of the worldwide pandemic that has killed almost 600,000 Americans and caused massive economic and social disruption, Jean-Pierre declined to give a definite response.
“We’re not going to go there just yet,” Jean-Pierre said, “We have to go through the 90-day review. And once we have the 90-day review, will we be able to reassess.”
“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,” she added while also refusing to commit to publicly releasing the findings within the next three months of a future report.