In a clear effort to give cover to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday night accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of mishandling the COVID-19 epidemic when it first began to spread globally.
Pence told Fox News host Sean Hannity that while he and President Donald Trump “expect” to continue to help fund the WHO, “that doesn’t mean that at the right time in the future, we aren’t going to ask the tough questions about how the World Health Organization could have been so wrong.”
“Literally at the time that President Trump set up the coronavirus task force in January and suspended all travel from China, just days before that, the World Health Organization was continuing to diminish the threat of coronavirus and its impact in China,” said Pence.
Though Trump did unveil the task force on January 30, the same day the WHO officially declared the disease to be a global health emergency, he was the one who spent over a month diminishing the virus until he was finally compelled to declare a state of emergency on March 13.
Additionally, his administration did not ask Congress for emergency funding to respond to the outbreak until February 24.
The vice president’s comments echoed Trump’s efforts to shift the blame onto the global organization.
“The W.H.O. really blew it,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday, then later threatened to pull funding from the organization.
On Wednesday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Trump to stop politicizing the outbreak “if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
Watch Pence below:
Pence accuses the World Health Organization of being "so wrong" about COVID-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/q18vGQM99d
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) April 9, 2020