‘Let Me Finish My Answer’: Kirby Pushes Back Against Doocy On Origins Of COVID

[Screenshot/YouTube/White House press briefing]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby pushed back against Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy on the origins of COVID-19 at Tuesday’s press briefing.

Biden signed the Republican-led COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023 into law Monday to declassify intelligence related to the origins of the virus. The U.S. Department of Energy concluded in February with “low confidence” that the virus likely originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory in Wuhan, China, while the FBI reached the same conclusion with “moderate confidence.” Government, media and public health authorities previously claimed that the virus had a natural origin and dismissed the “lab leak” explanation as a conspiracy theory.

“[Biden] says he will declassify COVID origins intel except info that would harm national security. Is there a bigger national security threat than something that killed one million people in this country?” Doocy asked.

“Yeah, I’ve seen some of the commentary on your network about this,” Kirby answered. “The president obviously has to balance transparency with national security, Peter, of course he does. Right when coming into office, he ordered the declassification of what the DNI had on COVID origins, ordered the entire intelligence community and added the Department of Energy to that list.”

“Then where is it?” Doocy interjected.

“Hey, let me finish my answer,” Kirby said, reiterating the importance of balancing public transparency and national security and claiming that the president is dedicated to pinpointing the origin of COVID in order to prevent a future pandemic. (RELATED: ‘Why Did President Biden Let This Happen?’: Doocy Presses Kirby On Biden’s Handling Of Russia, China Relationship)

“Does the White House hope that the lab-leak theory is not true?” Doocy asked.

“We don’t have a hope one way or the other, Peter,” Kirby replied. “What we want is the ground truth, wherever that takes us. Wherever the science takes you, wherever the facts takes you, President Biden wants to know so he can help work with the scientific community to prevent a future pandemic. There’s no thumb on the scale here, Peter. It’s not about not wanting a certain outcome. We just want the best possible outcome that we can get.”

Doocy then transitioned to asking about a November meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which the president called on every country to “abide by the international rules of the road.” He asked Kirby if the president believes China is fulfilling the president’s wish.

“In some cases, we have significant concerns about China’s behavior, particularly their coercive, aggressive behavior for instance in the South China Sea and pursuing false maritime claims,” Kirby told Doocy. “Concerns about intellectual theft and some trade practices. And the president’s been very open about that and he was when they met in Bali.”

Kirby also emphasized that the U.S. and China need to have the ability to cooperate and negotiate despite their differences.