On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a step back from his claim that there was “enormous evidence” that COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China.
Pompeo told radio host Chris Stigall that “we’ve seen evidence that it came from the lab” but “that may not be the case.”
The Trump administration official similarly hedged on the issue in another interview that day.
“I think the whole world knows that this began and originated there in Wuhan. Where exactly it came from, it matters,” he told radio host Jack Heath. “We want to know the answers to that.”
“There’s evidence that it came from somewhere in the vicinity of the lab, but that could be wrong,” he added.
Pompeo’s comments were noticeably more cautious than the claims he made during his interview with ABC News anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday.
“Martha, there is enormous evidence that that’s where this began,” he told Raddatz.
The secretary of state claimed China “has a history of infecting the world” and “a history of running substandard laboratories.”
President Donald Trump and his top officials have been peddling the notion that the virus may have emerged from the lab and caused the COVID-19 pandemic. Some right-wingers have gone as far as accusing China of deliberately leaking the virus or engineering it in the lab.
However, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had released a statement several days beforehand on April 30 saying that the intelligence community “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”