Former White House press secretary and MSNBC contributor Jen Psaki appeared Monday to cast doubt on a report suggesting the COVID-19 virus leaked from a lab.
The U.S. Department of Energy said in a recent classified intelligence report that the COVID-19 pandemic likely originated from a leak in a Chinese lab, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The report was shared with the White House and certain members of Congress. The Energy Department reportedly views the lab leak conclusion with “low confidence” but nonetheless its admission is significant. The FBI maintains “moderate confidence” in the conclusion.
“Jen, you have other agencies – four intel agencies think it spread naturally. The DoE thinks lab leak with ‘low confidence.’ FBI thinks lab leak with moderate confidence. None think it was part of a Chinese bio weapon program,” host Joe Scarborough said, reciting a graphic.
“He is saying the DNI will release what information it can soon. This is something though, and we have said it here, I remember Tom Cotton got attacked by some newspaper — I think it was the Times, I don’t remember who it was — for talking about the possibility of a lab leak. And we said on the show, ‘we don’t know. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t.’ The problem here is that the Chinese … haven’t been cooperating since December of 2019.” (RELATED: Former CDC Director Says He Was ‘Sidelined’ And ‘Threatened’ For Taking Lab Leak Theory Seriously)
“Right, that’s exactly the problem. There was a report back in 2021 where the same intelligence agencies had similar conclusions. What is new as you just noted is the Department of Energy because they have the national labs, because President Biden asked them to use all of the resources to look into it, did conclude with low confidence,” Psaki said.
“But the FBI had moderate confidence back in 2021 and still has that today. Not a ton changed. The reason as you just alluded to it is because the Chinese are not providing data and it originated there and the World Health Organization has asked them to do that, the Biden Administration, countless European countries, and until they do, and I doubt they ever will at this point, will be very difficult even for the intelligence agencies in the United States or any other country to have a real conclusion of what the origin is here. Interesting, not insignificant the Department of Energy but we still really don’t know.”
Several prominent conservatives questioned the origins of COVID-19 despite intense backlash, such as Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, whom a Vanity Fair article accused of adding a “scary new layer to Donald Trump’s blame-China strategy,” while Snopes issued a fact check characterizing his allegations as “speculative.” The New York Times said Cotton was repeating “fringe theory of coronavirus origins” because the senator saw China as a threat.
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler criticized Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in May 2020 after Cruz suggested the virus leaked from a lab. Kessler said it was “virtually impossible.”