Is there daylight between the President and Sen. Marco Rubio over the origin of COVID-19?
An Axios on HBO interview with Florida’s senior Senator that aired Monday at least opens the question. Rubio avoids the kinds of absolutist statements the President and Secretary of State made about the origin of the novel coronavirus.
While the President said he has a “high degree of confidence” the outbreak started in a Chinese lab accident, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited “enormous evidence” that a lab accident was to blame, Rubio can’t bring himself to sign on.
The Senator believes that these origin stories are merely examples of a “possible theory’ regarding the origins of the novel coronavirus, maligned by some as the Wuhan or Chinese virus.
“What I think is a possible theory, but I can’t prove it and no one can because we don’t have enough information to disprove it or prove it, is that this happened as an accident, whether it was in the lab or someone that was out collecting samples and they became infected, and it’s possible that this outbreak started much earlier than they admit they did.”
“I’m not ruling out that it could be a lab accident, and some experts have not ruled it out either,” said Rubio. “Though I can’t prove it and no one can because we don’t have enough information to disprove it or prove it.”
“Obviously as a member of the Intelligence Committee we get to see a lot of things but we don’t get to see everything that the President sees at the same time,” the Senator demurred.
“I’ve seen no information that this was a virus that was created or manufactured as a bioweapon or anything of that nature,” Rubio added.
Despite the Senator’s unwillingness to commit to assigning culpability to China in terms of intentional virus spread, Rubio has said there would be diplomatic and economic consequences for the nation where this year’s novel coronavirus launched.
“If China had acted appropriately three weeks earlier than they did, this could very well have been contained in China geographically. Instead, not only did they lie about it. Not only did they tell doctors who knew about it not to talk about it, including one who lost his life,” Rubio told Fox News Apr. 30. “But they also bully countries. They pressured countries into leaving flights open and … that allowed it to spread around the world.”