President Donald Trump sent a letter to World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday threatening to permanently yank the U.S.’ funding to the organization and terminate the country’s membership based on his conspiracy theory that the WHO allowed China to cover up the COVID-19 outbreak when it first began ramping up in the beginning of the year.
In the letter, Trump claimed his administration’s review of the WHO’s “failed response” to the pandemic confirmed the organization’s “alarming lack of independence” from China.
He went on to lay out several supposed examples of the WHO ignoring China’s role in the early phase of the outbreak.
Much of Trump’s language echoed the criticism his own administration has received over its bungled response to the outbreak in the U.S., such as accusing the WHO of concealing information on the origins of the virus “probably for political reasons” and claiming the organization “repeatedly made claims about the coronavirus that were either grossly inaccurate or misleading.”
He also blamed Adhanom Ghebreyesus for the global COVID-19 death toll, claiming that “many lives could have been saved” if he’d pursued the same actions former WHO Director-General Harlem Brundtland took in battling the the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote.
Trump demanded that the WHO make “major substantive improvements within the next 30 days” or else “I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”
“I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests,” he wrote.
Trump’s letter further ramps up his attempt to deflect blame for his failure to prepare for the outbreak currently roiling the U.S. and tanking the nation’s economy. He and his allies have been parroting anti-China talking points and accusing the WHO of siding with China in the outbreak.