White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to comment on Wednesday on whether the Biden administration would punish China, if evidence emerged that the coronavirus causing COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) — despite stating that members of the administration “haven’t ruled out” the possibility that the pandemic began deliberately.
Jean-Pierre was lambasted after a reporter pushed for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic in China.
Jean-Pierre refused to comment on what the repercussions would be for China if they refused to comply with additional attempts to investigate the origins of the pandemic.
At one point during the press conference, Jean-Pierre was asked if the administration had ruled out the possibility that the pandemic was started deliberately.
“We haven’t ruled out anything yet,” she answered. “But, again, we’re going to go through this — you know, this redoubling down of another — of a 90-day review, and we’ll have more to share.”
The questions came after President Joe Biden issued a statement earlier in the day saying he directed “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.”
“As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China,” the statement continued. “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. And I have asked the Intelligence Community to keep Congress fully apprised of its work.”
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked if Biden would seek to punish China if the pandemic originated from a Chinese lab:
DOOCY: And then just last one: On COVID-19 origins, if it turns out that COVID-19 originated from some sort of a lab accident in China — which, the President now says, one element of the intel community thinks is possible — would the President seek to punish China?
JEAN-PIERRE: I — we’re not going to go there just yet. We have to go through the 90-day review. And once we have the 90-day review, we’ll be able to reassess.
DOOCY: But just on a 30- — just to take a step back: Anything that kills 591,116 Americans, is that something — if another nation either was responsible or knew more than they were letting on — like you said, they weren’t letting the inspectors in and that hurt the overall investigation forever — what would the President do? Would he do anything?
JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, he’s doing something right now. He’s been — he asked his team, back in March — right? — to do — to do this — to look into this — look into the origins of COVID-19.
This is incredibly important, like his statement says. We need to find out how — where the COVID-19 originated from. So the President has been very clear. He actually, you know, spoke out about this back in 2020. So, this is not the first time we’ve heard his voice, his concern about the origins of COVID-19. So, we’re just taking the next step. 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 also refused to answer the question of whether Biden has requested that Chinese President Xi Jinping cooperate with the investigation, saying that she would not go “into details of a private conversation that the president may have had with President Xi.”