Republican attorneys general for 18 states have sent a letter asking bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate to open hearings into China’s role in the spread of the coronavirus.
Their letter accuses China of “layers of deceit” in covering up the severity of the virus while it “wreaked havoc” in the US, according to the letter, Fox News reported.
The letter, dated May 9, was spearheaded by South Carolina AG Alan Wilson.
“We can’t rely solely on media to do the investigation. We have got to have truly, we have got to have congressional oversight. We have got to go deep into an investigation using the reaches of the federal government,” he said in the letter.
“Congressional hearings are critical to our nation’s understanding of the origins of COVID-19 and efforts by the communist Chinese government to deceive the international community.”
The letter also asserted that the Chinese government knew how dangerous the coronavirus was in the early stages of the outbreak — which later became a global pandemic, killing more than 80,000 Americans to date — but hid how bad it was.
“Recent reports suggest that the communist Chinese government willfully and knowingly concealed information about the severity of the virus while simultaneously stockpiling personal protective equipment,” it says.
“These layers of deceit began last year with the censoring of Chinese health officials and the muzzling of Taiwanese complaints,” the letter continued.
“The cover-up continued with the expulsion of media outlets and the proliferation of Chinese propaganda targeting the Western world. This propaganda campaign has spread disinformation about the United States and has included the suspicious gifts of drones to state, local and federal authorities as well as ‘educational’ grants to American universities connected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
AG Wilson, who organized the letter, said it was mostly shared among Republicans to quickly get it to Congress, and that he welcomed Democrats’ support, Fox reported.
“We wanted to get this letter out as quickly as possible. Obviously it was circulated as quickly as possible within our caucus, but it is not exclusive of Democrats. I know that many Democratic AGs have questions much like we do,” Wilson said.
“We would certainly ask our Democratic colleagues to join us and I’m sure that many of them have the same questions that we do… I don’t want the letter to be viewed as a partisan letter because in the letter we’re not out there attacking anybody on a partisan level. We’re Americans, and we want to know what China did that led to this pandemic.”
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie RutledgeGetty Images
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she was most concerned about saving lives, but hoped Congressional hearings will create a reliable factual record for such lawsuits or other actions against China.
“It is important we have information from China and whether or not they did, in fact, know of [the virus’] ability to spread and how fast and the impact, as well as whether or not China was, in fact, hoarding that personal protective equipment that has become so scarce in the opening months of dealing with this pandemic,” she said.
“That’s why it is important that we are calling on Congress to investigate so that way we may have more facts to determine what liability, if any, should be placed on the Chinese government.”