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House Intel Panel Chair Xi Visits, Weighs in on Origins of Covid

After Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told CBS News he thinks Xi may be looking to consolidate power for a future authoritarian regime.

Asked about the national security implications of closer ties between China and Russia, Republican Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio replied, “President Xi is saying, ‘I want to usher in a new era where authoritarian rule triumphs over democracy and freedom.’ That’s doubly so for us.” Essential. And we’re going to make sure that we’re going to make sure that our military is strong, that we rise to this challenge and we’re going to make sure that they don’t get the change that they want. For.”

Turner, a member of the Congressional Gang of Eight, is briefed on the most sensitive government intelligence. The Ohio congressman has been deeply involved in efforts to release intelligence about the origins of Covid-19, which has contributed to the deaths of more than 1.1 million Americans, according to the CDC.

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden Bipartisan legislation signed Director of National Intelligence Avril Haynes must release any information about the origin of the epidemic and the link between the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the same city where the epidemic first emerged.

“I think they’re going to see that there’s substantial evidence of a lab leak and there’s only anecdotal evidence of a natural occurrence,” Turner said. “And it’s going to be very different from what people have concluded by reading the declassified material that the administration has released.”

Some virologists say the spread from other species A possible explanation for how the outbreak began in humans. A recent analysis of samples collected from a market in Wuhan found The virus was spread near living animals Susceptible to infection. However, these scientists are calling for more research into key questions around the origins of Covid.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said, “We continue to call on China to share information and be transparent in conducting the necessary investigations and sharing the results. Understanding how the epidemic started is both an ethical and scientific imperative. Journalists

Turner predicted that declassified intelligence would “help people really know where to go next in the investigation and that we have important information that will lead people to conclude, as Director Way said of the FBI, that (it) is his conclusion that this will be a lab leak.” .”

In early March, FBI Director Christopher Wray said in an interview with Fox News that “the FBI has assessed for some time that the source of the outbreak is likely a possible lab incident.”

While intelligence agencies have been unable to agree on the origin of the pandemic, the Department of Energy also recently concluded with “low confidence” that it is plausible that an accidental lab leak was the source of the coronavirus.

In Ottawa on Friday, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CBS News’ Christina Ruffini that the Energy Department’s report is “still classified” and said the intelligence community is currently “going through the process of determining what can be classified.” He added that currently, the sources and methods of the department’s reports are classified.

In January 2021, a State Department fact sheet released by the outgoing Trump administration found “several researchers inside the WIV (Wuhan Institute of Virology) became ill in the fall of 2019, before the first identified cases of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. and both common seasonal illnesses.”

Turner said he would press the intelligence community “to release the names of those who were involved and to communicate the circumstances of the lab release,” so that his committee could follow up with them.

He also wants to seek information about the scientific experts who advised the US government on the origin of COVID-19.

“I think they should release information about who they were talking to before, which scientists, which experts they talked to that gave them the ability to say they thought it was a natural phenomenon,” he said.
Those kinds of names, facts, dates, information that hasn’t been made public, I think will allow for more investigation into this whole incident and what the administration is going to do next.”

Grace Kazarian contributed to this report.

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Kathryn Herridge

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