White House orders intel agencies to investigate China, World Health Organization

(ABC News) — The White House has ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to review intercepted communications and other data to see whether China and possibly the World Health Organization concealed information early on about the novel coronavirus, two administration officials told ABC News.

The investigation is a sign of President Donald Trump’s new hard line on China amid questions about his own response to the pandemic. After initially praising Xi Jinping and his government’s “transparency,” the president has now even suggested his administration would seek compensation from Beijing.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once again played the role of attack dog Wednesday, accusing China of spreading disinformation and covering up details of the outbreak and calling into question the safety of Chinese labs — fueling the unproven theory that the first case of COVID-19 came from a biomedical lab in Wuhan, China.

Pompeo had labeled the pandemic the “Wuhan virus” in an effort to make clear where the outbreak began, according to a State Department official, as the arms of Chinese government propaganda cast doubt on whether it originated in Wuhan and even blamed the U.S. military for starting it. But after a March 27 call between Trump and Xi, that accusatory tone was softened, with Pompeo not even directly referring to China when calling for transparency or accusing governments of disinformation.

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