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Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., claimed on “Outnumbered Overtime” Thursday that China’s leaders made a “deliberate” decision to allow the coronavirus to spread around the world.
Cotton was reacting to a Fox News report that U.S. officials are increasingly confident the virus likely escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, where it was being studied.
“We still know that they covered up this virus for weeks in December and January,” said Cotton.
“In my opinion, Xi Jinping had decided if China is going to suffer, then the rest of the world, especially the United States, is going to suffer and there has to be consequences for those actions,” he said.
Multiple sources who have been briefed on the details of early actions by China’s government and seen relevant materials tell Fox News that the virus — a naturally occurring strain that was being studied at the Wuhan lab — was initially transmitted from a bat to a human. It is believed that “patient zero” worked at the Wuhan lab.
One of the sources aid Beijing may have engaged in the “costliest government cover-up of all time.”
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Cotton said that the “bombshell” story lends more “circumstantial evidence” to China being responsible for unleashing the pandemic on the world.
“[China] has to pay for it,” he said, adding that he had been skeptical since January of the explanation that the virus originated in a Wuhan wet market.
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The “increasing confidence” comes from classified and open-source documents and evidence, the sources said. Fox News has requested to see the evidence directly. Sources emphasized — as is often the case with intelligence — that it’s not definitive and should not be characterized as such. Some inside the administration and the intelligence and epidemiological communities are more skeptical, and the investigation is continuing.
Fox News’ Brett Baier and Gregg Re contributed to this report.