Trump Criticizes WHO Response To COVID-19 Pandemic, Threatens To Freeze Funding, Downplays Early Warnings Of Epidemic From Trade Adviser Navarro; Republican-Backed House Resolution Calls For Defunding WHO Until Change Of Leadership

AP: Trump blasts world health group, defends early virus steps
“President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to freeze U.S. funding to the World Health Organization, saying the international group had ‘missed the call’ on the coronavirus pandemic. Trump also played down the release of January memos from a senior adviser that represented an early warning of a possible coronavirus pandemic, saying he had not seen them at the time. But he turned his anger on the WHO, first declaring that he would cut off U.S. funding for the organization, then backtracking and saying he would ‘strongly consider’ such a move…” (Lemire et al., 4/7).

Fox News: Republican resolution calls for defunding WHO until Dr. Tedros resigns
“Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives Tuesday that calls for the United States to defund the World Health Organization (WHO) until its embattled Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus resigns and the United Nations-backed organization is investigated over its treatment of China during the coronavirus pandemic…” (Olson, 4/7).

The Hill: Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill
“Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday pledged to cut funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Congress’s next appropriations bill unless it makes changes to its leadership. Graham said during an appearance on Fox News that he would use his position as chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee overseeing foreign operations to ensure the WHO did not get funding from the U.S. ‘I’m not going to support funding the WHO under its current leadership,’ Graham said…” (Wise, 4/7).

New York Times: Trade Adviser Warned White House in January of Risks of a Pandemic
“A top White House adviser starkly warned Trump administration officials in late January that the coronavirus crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death. The warning, written in a memo by Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to have circulated inside the West Wing as the administration was taking its first substantive steps to confront a crisis that had already consumed China’s leaders and would go on to upend life in Europe and the United States. … Both Mr. Navarro and Matthew Pottinger, the chief deputy at the National Security Council, were among the few officials urging colleagues in January to take a harder line in relation to the growing threat of the coronavirus…” (Haberman/Mazzetti, 4/6).

STAT: Trump pledges to put a hold on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization
“…Trump said his announcement was not a decision to end all U.S. funding for the agency, but rather a chance to give his administration the chance to ‘look at it.’ The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. has provided the agency with $893 million during the agency’s current two-year funding period, which includes about $236 million in dues. That funding accounts for about 14.67% of the WHO’s total funding, according to the organization’s website. The WHO is also notoriously cash-strapped; the annual dues members companies pay to support its annual budget have been frozen for more than a decade…” (Florko/Branswell, 4/7).

Additional coverage of Trump’s comments on WHO funding is available from Bloomberg, Fox News, Newsweek, NPR, POLITICO (2), Reuters, TIME, and Wall Street Journal.

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