Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday critics “went crazy” last year when he said the coronavirus could have escaped from a Chinese lab and he was “more confident” than before that’s how the pandemic emerged.
In an interview on “The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show,” co-host Clay Travis noted to Trump that he was “vociferously criticized” for positing the coronavirus was not of natural origin but emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The hypothesis was widely called a “debunked” or “fringe” conspiracy theory by media outlets last year. Google and Facebook suppressed sharing of and searching for the theory that it emerged from the lab, which conducts bat coronavirus research and had widely known security issues.
“All of the sudden, everybody is circling back and saying, ‘Oh, maybe this did happen,’ but all of these different tech platforms disallowed the conversation and debate to actually take place,” Travis said. “Are you still as confident now as you were last year when you made those allegations that COVID came from a Chinese lab?”
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“Probably more confident,” Trump said. “And I felt very confident last time, but I would say even more now in retrospect, because a lot of the phony things that they were saying … it came from a bat colony, a thousand miles away. Much of that has really been disproven, and I would say more confident.”
“When I said it came from the lab in Wuhan people went crazy. Now, it could be it’s probably that I said it … No matter what you do, they want to go against … These people, I don’t believe they love our country, I’ll be honest with you. But with the lab … even if you were weren’t sure, why would they be so vociferous? As you remember, they went crazy when I said that. Now, they’re all saying that I was right,” he added.
Trump said at one point last year he had a high degree of confidence the virus emerged from a lab, but his discussion of its origins waned in 2020 as the United States grappled with soaring cases and deaths from the virus. The theory has found new life in 2021 as scientists and journalists have admitted they shouldn’t have dismissed it out-of-hand, with some even admitting Trump and other Republicans supporting the theory played into their rejection of it.
Trump also addressed Tuesday when he might announce a 2024 presidential campaign, saying “the most logical date would be right after 2022” [midterms]. He was otherwise cagy on repeated questions about his political plans.
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A January State Department report that three researchers at the Wuhan lab grew sick with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019 stoked even more conversation about the lab-leak theory. Also, a government probe last year into the origins of the virus found practically no evidence COVID-19 originated from nature, former State Department official David Asher told Fox News last month.
Trump added Tuesday that China should pay $10 trillion to the United States to make up for the devastation wrought by the coronavirus.
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In the wide-ranging, friendly radio interview, Trump also said former football star Herschel Walker had told him he would run for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, and poked fun at CNN for its ratings collapse this year (“it’s probably the only good thing about me not being in office”).
Fox Corporation purchased Travis’ popular sports site Outkick, he announced in May. He and Sexton’s show debuted last week as they took the time slot of conservative radio legend Rush Limbaugh, who died in February.