WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says the Biden administration doesn’t have “anything to preview” on steps to pressure China into being transparent on COVID-19 origins — after a spy agency review reportedly failed to determine the cause of the pandemic due to stonewalling.
Psaki on Wednesday said that President Biden received a briefing from the US intelligence community on a report assessing the possibility that the virus leaked either accidentally or on purpose from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“He did not just receive a copy, he received a briefing yesterday on the 90-day origins report — a classified briefing,” Psaki said at her daily press briefing.
“The intelligence community has been simultaneously working on an unclassified version of the summary — a summary version to provide publicly. I don’t have a timeline for you on when that will be provided, but they’ve been working expeditiously to prepare that.”
But Psaki was pressed by reporters on next steps for investigating the origins of the pandemic, which has killed more than 631,000 Americans and caused massive economic, social and educational disruption.
Wall Street Journal reporter Alex Leary asked Psaki, “What is President Biden prepared to do to push the Chinese on the Wuhan lab investigation?”
She replied, “I think it’s well known they haven’t been cooperative, right? Through your reporting, other reporting and just the fact that they obviously have not in a publicly available way provided the data and the information that we have been requesting. In terms of an assessment of what steps we might take, I don’t have anything to preview for you on that front.”
Psaki was pressed again by reporter Michael Wilner of the McClatchy newspaper network on “what’s the next step” if “we don’t have clarity” on how the pandemic began.
“We will talk about that once the summary is out and public,” Psaki said.
The Biden White House initially resisted pursuing a US review of pandemic origins, instead deferring to the World Health Organization. But in May the president ordered the 90-day spy agency review after the Wall Street Journal reported that three workers at the Wuhan lab were hospitalized in November 2019 ahead of public confirmation of the outbreak.
China has rejected requests for transparency on early COVID-19 data and falsely claimed that US labs may be to blame for the outbreak that emerged in Wuhan.
Psaki said this month that the White House does not support former President Donald Trump’s demand that China pay $10 trillion in reparations for allowing the virus to spread by concealing early data.
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