President Donald Trump lashed out Tuesday at the World Health Organization, choosing a new political enemy to attack and threatening to withhold funding from a premier health institution even as a deadly virus ravages nations around the globe.
“We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re going to see,” Trump said during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House, accusing the organization of having not been aggressive enough in confronting the virus. “They called it wrong. They call it wrong. They really, they missed the call.”
In effect, Trump sought to denounce the WHO for the very missteps and failures that have been leveled at him and his administration. Public health experts have said the president’s public denials of the virus’ dangers slowed the US response, which included delayed testing and a failure to stockpile protective gear.
In fact, the WHO sounded the alarm in the earliest days of the crisis, declaring a “public health emergency of international concern” a day before the US secretary of health and human services announced the country’s own public health emergency and weeks before Trump declared a national emergency.
After saying flatly that the United States had decided to “put a hold” on the organization’s money, the president later denied that he had made those remarks and appeared to back down.
“I’m not saying that I’m going to do it. But we’re going to look at it,” he said. When a reporter noted that he had indeed said the funding would end, Trump insisted, wrongly: “No, I didn’t. I said we’re going to look at it.”
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