United States President Donald Trump has instructed his administration to suspend funding to the World Health Organization over the agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” he said.
“Everybody knows what’s going on there.”
Trump said the government review of the agency will take somewhere between “60 to 90 days.”
The U.S. president claimed the WHO failed to disclose or respond to what he called “credible” information in December that suggested the virus could be spread through human-to-human transmission.
“It would have been so easy to be truthful,” he said of the WHO.
Trump blamed the WHO for “all sorts of false information about transmission and mortality” that was circulated amid initial reports.
But in February, he called COVID-19 a “new hoax” during a rally in Charleston, South Carolina.
“One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That did not work out too well.” Trump said.
“They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. … They tried anything. … And this is their new hoax.”
According to Trump, American taxpayers pay between US$400 million and US$500 million dollars per year to the WHO.
In contrast, he claimed China contributes roughly US$40 million dollars per year.
“As the organization’s leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability. One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations,” Trump added.
He also criticized the WHO for praising China’s transparency and lauding the country’s efforts at containing the virus, despite also praising China for “working very hard to contain the Coronavirus” on Twitter in January.
“China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency,” he tweeted.
“It will all work out well.”
Meanwhile, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a scathing letter criticizing the president for his “incompetent reaction to this health crisis.”
In the letter, she slammed Trump for initially downplaying the virus and accused him of lying to Americans about whether adequate testing was available to U.S. citizens.
“The truth is a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility. A weak person blames others,” the letter read.
A statement from the Democratic National Convention, meanwhile, said Trump ignored warnings about the virus for months while praising China’s “transparency.”
“Trump is willing to put global health further at risk to try to deflect blame from his own failures,” the statement read.
During the press conference, Trump also announced that plans to reopen the country were close to being finalized, and that he would be “authorizing” each individual governor to implement a reopening of their state’s economy.
“I will be speaking to all 50 governors very shortly, and I will then be authorizing each individual governor of each individual state to implement a reopening and a very powerful reopening plan of their state, at a time and in a manner as most appropriate,” he said.
Following his statement, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash refuted Trump’s claims that he can “authorize” a governor to reopen the economy on Twitter.
“Contrary to what President Trump apparently thinks, the president doesn’t “authorize” individual governors of individual states to do their jobs. They don’t work for him,” he tweeted.
This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.