President Biden left a press gaggle before it even began when asked about the origins of COVID-19.
The 80-year-old president turned and left upon hearing the question from journalist Iris Tao of NTD Television.
“On COVID origins, will you hold China accountable?” asked the journalist — just days after the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Energy Department now believes the virus that killed more than 1 million Americans leaked from a Chinese lab.
Biden stunned journalists by throwing his hands in the air and walking away to his awaiting Marine One helicopter.
BREAKING: President Biden @POTUS was going to speak but turned away upon hearing my question on #Covid origin and whether he’ll hold #China accountable. @NTDNews @ChinaInFocusNTD @capitolreport pic.twitter.com/jsbMTNPeYb— Iris Tao (@IrisTaoTV) March 3, 2023
This was not the first time that he walked away from the press, as he did so on February 16 after he was asked if his ability to deal with China was compromised by his family’s business relationships in China.
Republicans regularly criticize Biden for not doing more to determine the origins of COVID-19 or pressure Beijing to halt illegal fentanyl exports. There are two major Biden family business ventures in China that currently are a focus for House Republican investigators.
Odd moment as President Biden departed WH just now for Delaware: he approached reporters to speak, then changed his mind pic.twitter.com/OmAYVXxWVJ— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) March 3, 2023
On Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby refused to acknowledge claims that the Energy Department has altered its position on the sources of the pandemic.
Under political pressure, Biden authorized a US intelligence community assessment of the origins of COVID-19 in May 2021, after previously claiming the US would defer to the World Health Organization.
In August 2021, the intelligence agencies determined that it was “possible” that the virus originated from a lab release in Wuhan or from natural origin via animal-to-human transmission.
A written statement attributed to Biden at the time stated, “The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them.”
“Responsible nations do not shirk these kinds of responsibilities to the rest of the world,” the statement added. “Pandemics do not respect international borders, and we all must better understand how COVID-19 came to be in order to prevent further pandemics.”
But, Biden, who campaigned strongly against then-President Donald Trump’s handling of the outbreak in 2020, has rarely raised the matter publicly since then.
In response to a question from The Washington Post in January 2022, Biden claimed that during a November 2021 virtual summit, he pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to be transparent about the virus’s origins, despite the fact that then-press secretary Jen Psaki had given reporters the opposite impression. Biden claimed that his own press staff was uninformed of his actions because they were not there throughout the exchange.
After a phone meeting between Biden and Xi in July 2022, Jean-Pierre dodged queries about whether Biden pressed the Chinese leader about the origins of COVID-19, although he did mention fentanyl.
The subject was left out of Biden’s public statements and a White House readout of the private section of Biden’s first in-person meeting with Xi in November, despite the fact that Biden aides later said he raised it behind closed doors.
The Intercept published documents in late 2021 revealing that the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance used US money to fund Wuhan lab experiments that changed three bat coronaviruses distinct from COVID-19. When human-type receptors were introduced to “humanized” mice, the researchers discovered they became considerably more contagious.
Biden’s approach to discovering the roots of the pandemic is diametrically opposed to Trump’s. The former president, who is eyeing a rematch with Biden in 2024, has suggested that China pay $50 trillion in “reparations” for the virus, which caused huge global economic, social, and educational disruption.
Two major Biden family business interests in China are currently being investigated by House Republican investigators.
The first is about BHR Partners, an investment firm founded in 2013 by then-second son Hunter Biden. The other is a company named CEFC China Energy, which allegedly paid Hunter and his uncle James Biden millions of dollars in 2017 and 2018 as Joe Biden was considering a presidential run.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Hunter Biden co-founded BHR Partners in 2013, only weeks after joining then-Vice President Joe Biden onboard Air Force Two on an official trip to Beijing. During that trip, Hunter introduced his father to incoming BHR CEO Jonathan Li in a hotel lobby, and Joe Biden later signed college reference letters for Li’s children.
Despite his father’s insistence that there would be no family-business-related conflicts of interest during his administration, online business records show Hunter Biden still co-owns a 10% stake in BHR. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Chris Clark, stated in late 2021 that the BHR interest had been divested, but neither he nor the White House have offered any other information on the alleged transaction.
Joseph Biden is also said to have been involved in the CEFC operations.
Following a study of Hunter Biden’s laptop records, the Washington Post reported that Hunter and Jim Biden received $4.8 million from CEFC China Energy, an arm of Beijing’s foreign-influence “Belt and Road” plan, in 2017 and 2018.
Tony Bobulinski, a former Hunter Biden business partner, says he spoke with Joe Biden in May 2017 about the CEFC deal, and a May 2017 email from another colleague, James Gilliar, says the “big guy” was due a 10% cut.
Joseph Biden has been identified as the “big guy” by both Bobulinski and Gilliar, and an October 2017 email identifies Joe Biden as a participant in a call concerning CEFC’s bid to purchase US natural gas.