Top US scientist Dr Anthony Fauci has again dismissed claims that the coronavirus was created in a Chinese laboratory.
“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told National Geographic magazine in an interview published on Monday.
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“Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” Fauci said.
US President Donald Trump has claimed he has seen evidence that the virus began in the Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology. He has not provided or detailed the evidence, however.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday there was “a significant amount of evidence” that the virus emerged from a Chinese laboratory. He did not dispute US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that it was not man-made, however.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has dismissed the allegation, and other US officials have downplayed the likelihood that it is true.
China has called the claims “insane”.
Most experts believe the virus originated in a Wuhan market selling wildlife and jumped from animals to people.
Trump, speaking to reporters outside the White House before leaving on a trip to Arizona on Tuesday, said the US would release its report detailing the origins of the novel coronavirus over time, but gave no other details or timeline.
Fauci allowed to testify before Senate, not House
Also on Tuesday, Trump said Fauci would be allowed to appear next week before a panel in the Republican-controlled US Senate examining the country’s coronavirus response but could not testify to the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, defended his decision to block the nation’s top infectious disease expert from appearing before the House, saying he was being set up by Democrats who hate him and want to win back the White House in November’s presidential election.
“The House is a setup. The House is a bunch of Trump haters. They put every Trump hater on the committee,” Trump told reporters.
Politico reported that the White House had recently issued guidance that “no Task Force members, or key depuities of Task Force members, may accept hearing invitations” for the rest of the month. Fauci is a member of the taskforce.
“Exceptions may be made only with the express approval” of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Politico quoted the memo as saying.
A House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health programmes had been seeking testimony from Fauci for a May 6 hearing, but the White House last week said his appearance would be “counterproductive”.
Fauci is scheduled to appear May 12 before the Senate Health, Education, and Labor and Pensions committee along with other top US health officials.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, and Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir are also scheduled to appear before the Senate hearing next week focused on “safely getting back to work and … school,” according to the committee.
Fauci has not shied away from contradicting Trump claims if they go against scientific data or evidence.
In an interview with CNN on Monday night, Fauci warned against a rush to reopen state economies, saying it may have dire consequences down the road.
Separately on Monday, Fauci also criticised state governments that were beginning to reopen their economies, despite a push by Trump.
“How many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept to get back to what you want to be some form of normality sooner rather than later?” Fauci asked.
UNSC dismisses US demand to impose ‘snapback’ sanctions on Iran |NationalTribune.com
The president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has said it was “not in position to take further action” on a bid by the United States to trigger “snapback” sanctions against Iran. Indonesia’s UN Ambassador, Dian Triansyah Djani, whose country is presiding over the UNSC for August, made the remark on Tuesday while responding to…
The president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has said it was “not in position to take further action” on a bid by the United States to trigger “snapback” sanctions against Iran.
Indonesia’s UN Ambassador, Dian Triansyah Djani, whose country is presiding over the UNSC for August, made the remark on Tuesday while responding to a question from Russia and China during a council meeting on the Middle East.
The move by the UNSC president drew an angry rebuke from the US ambassador to the UN, who accused the opposing countries of supporting the “terrorists”.
“Let me just make it really, really clear: the Trump administration has no fear in standing in limited company on this matter,” US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft hit back after Djani spoke.
“I only regret that other members of this council have lost their way and now find themselves standing in the company of terrorists.”
Trump: US to demand restoration of UN sanctions on Iran
It was not immediately clear whether the assessment by Indonesia would end the US push to reimpose all international sanctions on Iran.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he hoped the US would now drop its bid for snapback Iran sanctions, “which is not only illegal, but simply will not lead to achieving the result that was envisaged by the United States”.
Nebenzia’s deputy Dmitry Polyanskiy summed up the Indonesian assessment in a Twitter post: “It means, there is NO SNAPBACK.”
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington had formally notified the UN that it wants all sanctions on Iran restored, claiming significant Iranian violations of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers that was endorsed by the UNSC.
Pompeo said the US had the legal right to “snap back” UN sanctions within 30 days, even though Trump had pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018.
However, on Friday, 13 UNSC members expressed their opposition to the US move, arguing the move is void since the Trump administration had already quit the deal.
But the US argued it can still trigger the “snapback” process because a 2015 UNSC resolution that enshrined the deal names Washington as a participant.
On August 14, the UNSC had resoundingly rejected a US bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran beyond its expiration in October.
‘Ready to talk if US returns to deal’
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday said Tehran could reach an agreement with Washington if the US “apologises” and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal, according to Iranian state TV.
“The US maximum pressure policy against Iran has been defeated,” Rouhani told reporters, responding to Trump’s statement saying the US could reach a deal if he is re-elected in November.
“Efforts to change the Iranian regime by taking the people to the streets also failed. They found that these methods didn’t work.”
Rouhani added that he expects the next US administration to change Washington’s policy on Iran after the election.
Trump told supporters Sunday that if re-elected, he would reach an agreement with Iran within four weeks.
Judge dismisses Trump’s lawsuit to block subpoena for tax records |NationalTribune.com
US President Donald Trump, who is campaigning for re-election in November, has fought efforts by lawmakers and prosecutors to obtain his tax records, which should shed light on his financial dealings [Tom Brenner/Reuters] A US judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by President Donald Trump that sought to block enforcement of a grand jury subpoena…
US President Donald Trump, who is campaigning for re-election in November, has fought efforts by lawmakers and prosecutors to obtain his tax records, which should shed light on his financial dealings [Tom Brenner/Reuters]
A US judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by President Donald Trump that sought to block enforcement of a grand jury subpoena for eight years of his personal and corporate tax records.
Trump’s lawyers issued an emergency appeal to the ruling by US District Judge Voctor Marrero.
Marrero’s ruling echoes his prior decision in the case, which was upheld by the US Supreme Court last month. The high court returned the case to Marrero so Trump’s lawyers could get another chance to challenge the subpoena issued by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow promised an immediate appeal to the ruling that could pave the wat for the release of eight years of Trump’s tax returns [AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin]
Trump, through his lawyers, has argued that the subpoena was issued in bad faith, might have been politically motivated and amounted to harassment of him, especially since the wording mimicked the language in congressional subpoenas.
Vance’s attorneys said they were entitled to extensive records to aid a “complex financial investigation” and they cited in their papers public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization”.
Trump’s lawyers said that the request for tax records dating back to 2011 was retaliatory after the president’s company, the Trump Organization, disputed the scope of a subpoena seeking records from June 1, 2015, through September 20, 2018.
That time span pertains to an investigation related to payoffs to two women, including porn actress Stormy Daniels, to keep them quiet during the 2016 presidential campaign about alleged extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.
Trump, who is campaigning for re-election in November, has fought efforts by lawmakers and prosecutors to obtain his tax records, which should shed light on his financial dealings. He has also defied decades of precedent as a presidential candidate by refusing to release his tax returns.
Trump dismisses ‘even more fake’ polls that show him losing to Biden
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is refusing to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming White House election, recalling a similar threat he made weeks before the 2016 vote, as he scoffs at polls showing him lagging behind Democrat Joe Biden. Trump says it’s too early to make such an ironclad guarantee. “I…
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is refusing to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming White House election, recalling a similar threat he made weeks before the 2016 vote, as he scoffs at polls showing him lagging behind Democrat Joe Biden. Trump says it’s too early to make such an ironclad guarantee.
“I have to see. Look … I have to see,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”
It is remarkable that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy’s electoral process. But for Trump, it comes from his insurgent playbook of four years ago, when in the closing stages of his race against Hillary Clinton, he said he would not commit to honoring the election results if the Democrat won.
Pressed during an October 2016 debate about whether he would abide by the voters’ will, Trump responded that he would “keep you in suspense.”
Trump has seen his presidential popularity erode over his handing of the coronavirus pandemic and in the aftermath of nationwide protests centered on racial injustice that erupted after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis nearly two months.
Trump contends that a series of polls that show his popularity eroding and Biden holding an advantage are faulty. He believes Republican voters are underrepresented in such surveys.
“First of all, I’m not losing, because those are fake polls,” Trump said in the taped interview, which aired Sunday. “They were fake in 2016 and now they’re even more fake. The polls were much worse in 2016. “
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