China's coronavirus response was a 'classic communist disinformation effort': Pompeo

Martha Raddatz interviews Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on "This Week."
8:31 | 05/03/20

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Transcript for China's coronavirus response was a 'classic communist disinformation effort': Pompeo
We return you to this maybe have some evidence that wasn't naturally occurring virus? Look, you know every theory. The theory from the lab, the theory from different bats, the type of bat. There are a lot of theories. But, yeah, we have people looking at it very, very strongly. President trump discussing an unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus began in a lab in Wuhan, China. This comes amid reports that the U.S. Intelligence now believes that the Chinese government concealed the severity of coronavirus from early January. For more, let's bring in secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Good morning, Mr. Secretary. There are reports this morning, I want to talk about North Korea first before we get to China. Reports that shots were fired from North Korea into south Korean guard tower on the dmz and South Korea fired back. What can you tell us about that? Martha, thanks for having me on this morning. I have seen that reporting, too. I have seen some of our internal information as well. We can confirm at least the initial reports that you described it right. Handful of shots came across from the north, we think those were accidental. South Koreans did return fire. So far as we can tell, there was no loss of life on either side. We saw images of Kim Jong-un for the first time in three weeks. The president tweeting he's glad to see him back and well. Before those images emerged, president trump said that he had a very good idea about Kim's condition but could not talk about it at the time. What do you think Kim had been doing during this period, even missing that major celebration for his late grandfather? Martha, there's not much I can share with you about what we knew about Kim's activities during that time. We don't know why he missed that moment. We know there have been other extended period of times where chairman Kim has been out of view. It's not unprecedented. We have seen the same images from yesterday that the world saw. It looks like chairman Kim is alive and well. Regardless of any of that, our mission remains the same, to convince the north Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons and verify the same and create a brighter future for the north Korean people. And I know you can't share much information about chairman Kim, but was he ever in your opinion gravely ill during this period? Martha, I just can't say anything about that. Can you rule out that it was covid, or that there was a cardiovascular problem? Martha, I appreciate you continuing to try, I just can't offer anything further this morning. I want to turn to China, with intelligence officials as we mentioned saying that the Chinese government intentionally concealed the severity of covid-19 from the international community in early January while it stockpiled medical supplies, in terms of international concealing, I assume you think they did that intentionally to keep as many masks to themselves as possible, will there be some sort of retaliation? Martha, you got the facts just about right. We can confirm that the Chinese party did all of it could so the world couldn't learn in a timely fashion. We have seen the announcement, the fact they kick journalists out. Medical professionals inside of China were silenced. They shut down reporting. All the kind of things that authoritarian regimes did. This is classic communist disinformation effort. That created enormous risk. Now you can see tens of thousands in the United States have been harmed. President trump is very clear, we'll hold those responsible accountable and we'll do so on a time line. As for the origins of covid-19 the office of the director of national intelligence released a statement this week saying the virus did originate in China, but concurs that the covid-19 with the wide scientific consensus that covid-19 virus wasn't manmade or genetically modified. The statement going on to say, they'll continue to examine whether the outbreak through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan. Later the president was asked about it. Let's listen. Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan institute of virology was the original of this virus? Yes, I have. Yes, I have. What give you a high degree of confidence that this originated from Wuhan institute of virology? I can't tell you that. I'm not allowed to tell that. Mr. Secretary, have you seen anything that gives you high confidence that it originated in that Wuhan lab? Martha, there's enormous evidence that's where this began. We have said from the beginning, this virus originated in Wuhan, China, I think the whole world can see now, remember, China has a history of infecting the world and running substandard laboratories. These aren't the first times that we have had the world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in Chinese labs. I can tell you that there's a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan. Do you believe it was manmade or genetically modified? The best experts seem to think it was manmade. I have no reason to disbelieve it at that point. Your office at the dni says, the consensus, the scientific consensus wasn't manmade or genetically modified. That's right. I agree with that. I have seen their analysis. I have seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly, I have no reason to doubt to accurate. So just to be clear, you don't think it was manmade or genetically modified? I have seen what the intelligence has said. Martha, you have to put it in context. Here's what's important, Martha, here's what's important, the Chinese communist party had the opportunity to prevent all of the calamity that has befallen the world. Here with we are, this is an enormous crisis, created by the fact that the Chinese communist party reverted to form, to the kinds of disinformation, the kinds of disinformation that authoritarian regimes do. Had those scientists been operating in America, they would have put this out. Instead, China behaved like authoritarian regimes do, attempted to hide and confuse, these are the kind of things that have now presented this enormous crisis and enormous loss of life and tremendous economic cost all across the globe. The Australians agree with it. I think the whole world is united in understanding that China brought this virus to the world. Very quickly, Mr. Secretary, do you think they intentionally released that virus or it was an accident in the lab? I don't have anything to say about that. I think there's a lot to know. I can say this, we've done our best to answer all of those questions, we tried to get a team in there, the world health organization tried to get a team in there, and no one has been allowed to go to this lab and other laboratories in China. This is an ongoing challenge. We still need to get in there. We still don't have the virus samples we need. This is an ongoing threat and ongoing pandemic. The Chinese communist party continues to access to the western world, the best scientists, to figure out what happened. I can't answer your question about that. Because the Chinese communist party has refused to cooperate with world health experts. Thank you very much for joining us, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, Martha. Have a great day.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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