The Perfect Enemy | Biden abruptly bails on reporters when asked about COVID origins - New York Post
February 29, 2024

Biden abruptly bails on reporters when asked about COVID origins – New York Post

Biden abruptly bails on reporters when asked about COVID origins  New York Post View Full Coverage on Google News

WASHINGTON — President Biden grew flustered and abruptly ended a press gaggle before it began Friday when asked about the origins of COVID-19.

The 80-year-old president approached reporters to speak as he departed the White House for a weekend at his Delaware home, but turned and left upon hearing the question.

“On COVID origins, will you hold China accountable?” asked journalist Iris Tao of NTD Television — just days after the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Energy Department now believes the virus that killed more than 1 million Americans leaked from a Chinese lab.

Biden stunned journalists by throwing his hands in the air and walking away to his awaiting Marine One helicopter.

The president previously walked away from the press after appearing willing to answer questions on Feb. 16 when The Post asked, “Is your ability to deal with China compromised by your family’s business relationships in China, President Biden?”

Biden bristled, “Give me a break, man,” and refused to take any other questions, adding, “You can come to my office and ask a question when you have more polite people with you.”

President Joe Biden
President Biden abruptly ended a press gaggle before it began when asked about the origins of COVID-19.
Oliver Contreras/UPI/Shutterstock

Biden rarely mentions an interest in determining the origins of the pandemic, which the FBI also believes leaked from a facility in Wuhan, China, where risky US-funded research was focused on modifying coronaviruses before the outbreak.

“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told Fox News Tuesday. “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.” 

Biden’s son Hunter and brother James have extensive business relations with Chinese state-linked companies — with the president engaging with his relatives’ associates in at least two separate business deals.

Republicans regularly criticize Biden for not doing more to either determine the origins of COVID-19 or pressure Beijing to halt illegal fentanyl exports that have driven a surge in US overdose deaths, killing nearly 200,000 Americans from 2019 to 2022, the most recent years for which data are available.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on Monday pointedly refused to confirm reports that the Energy Department recently updated its stance on the origins of the pandemic.

Virologist Shi Zheng-li, left, and her colleague at the lab of Wuhan Institute of Virology
Virologist Shi Zheng-li, left, works with her colleague in the P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Future Publishing via Getty Images

Under political pressure, Biden in May 2021 ordered a US intelligence community assessment of the origins of COVID-19, after previously saying the US would defer to the World Health Organization to get answers.

The spy agencies assessed in August 2021 that it was “plausible” that the virus came either from a lab release in Wuhan or from natural origin via animal-to-human transmission.

At the time, a written statement attributed to Biden said, “The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them.”

“Responsible nations do not shirk these kinds of responsibilities to the rest of the world,” the statement added. “Pandemics do not respect international borders, and we all must better understand how COVID-19 came to be in order to prevent further pandemics.”

But Biden, who campaigned heavily in 2020 on slamming then-President Donald Trump’s management of the outbreak, has seldom raised the issue publicly since then.

In response to a question from The Post in January 2022, Biden claimed that he pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to be transparent on the origins of the virus during a November 2021 virtual summit, even though then-press secretary Jen Psaki had given reporters the opposite impression. Biden said his own press team was unaware of him doing so because they weren’t in the room for that exchange.

After a July 2022 phone call between Biden and Xi, Jean-Pierre ducked questions on whether Biden pressed the Chinese leader on COVID-19 origins, but said he did raise fentanyl.

The topic was omitted from Biden’s public opening remarks and a White House readout of the private portion of Biden’s first in-person meeting with Xi in November, though Biden aides later claimed he mentioned it behind closed doors.

Documents published in late 2021 by The Intercept revealed that New York-based EcoHealth Alliance used US grants to fund Wuhan lab experiments that modified three bat coronaviruses distinct from COVID-19. The research discovered they became much more infectious among “humanized” mice when human-type receptors were added to them. 

Biden’s approach to determining the origins of the pandemic contrasts starkly with Trump’s. The former president, who is seeking a 2024 rematch against Biden, has floated forcing China to pay $50 trillion in “reparations” for the virus, which caused massive global economic, social and educational upheaval.

There are two major Biden family business ventures in China that currently are a focus for House Republican investigators.

The first pertains to an investment company called BHR Partners formed by then-second son Hunter Biden in 2013. The other deals with a firm called CEFC China Energy, which reportedly paid Hunter and his uncle James Biden millions in 2017 and 2018, as Joe Biden mulled a presidential bid.

Hunter Biden co-founded BHR Partners in 2013 within weeks of joining then-Vice President Joe Biden aboard Air Force Two on an official trip to Beijing, according to the Wall Street Journal. Hunter introduced his dad to incoming BHR CEO Jonathan Li in a hotel lobby on that trip, and Joe Biden later wrote college recommendation letters for Li’s children.

Online business records indicate that Hunter Biden still co-owns a 10% stake in BHR, despite his father’s insistence there would be no family-business-related conflicts of interest during his presidency. Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark said in late 2021 that the BHR stake had been divested, but neither he nor the White House have provided further information on the supposed transaction.

Joe Biden allegedly was involved with the CEFC dealings as well.

Hunter and Jim Biden earned $4.8 million from CEFC China Energy — an arm of Beijing’s foreign-influence “Belt and Road” initiative — in 2017 and 2018, the Washington Post reported following a review of Hunter Biden’s laptop documents.

Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski says he met with Joe Biden in May 2017 regarding the CEFC deal, and a May 2017 email from another associate, James Gilliar, says the “big guy” was due a 10% cut. 

Bobulinski and Gilliar have both identified Joe Biden as the “big guy” and an October 2017 email identifies Joe Biden as a participant in a call about CEFC’s attempt to purchase US natural gas.