Attorneys general for 18 U.S. states have urged congressional leaders to investigate the Chinese regime’s role in the global spread of the CCP virus—the latest bid in a mounting campaign to hold Beijing accountable for the pandemic.
The letter, which is dated May 9 and addressed to bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate as well as leaders of the House and Senate Foreign Affairs committees, urged the lawmakers to open hearings into the matter. The state officials also accused the Chinese regime of “layers of deceit” in its coverup of the outbreak, resulting in a pandemic that has “wreaked havoc” on the United States.
“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,” states the letter, which was organized by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.
The letter comes as the Trump administration is probing how the outbreak started in China. Meanwhile, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has opened its own investigation into the origins and China’s response to the pandemic.
In the letter, Wilson and his counterparts condemned the Chinese regime’s efforts to conceal the severity of the outbreak in its early stages.
“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 said. “In what Secretary of State Pompeo has described as a ‘classic communist disinformation effort,’ the Chinese government, aided by the World Health Organization, appears to have intentionally misled the world over the last six months.”
The officials also criticized the regime’s continuing propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to divert global attention from its responsibility for the pandemic.
“These layers of deceit began last year with the censoring of Chinese health officials and the muzzling of Taiwanese complaints,” the letter continues. “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.”
Besides South Carolina, the letter was signed by the attorneys general—all of whom are Republican—of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
“We need answers and we need them soon. Americans are dying and millions are losing their jobs,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who believes a congressional investigation is crucial.
“What did the Communist Party of China know, when did they know it and why did its members participate in a massive conspiracy to cover up and mislead the international community about the severity and highly contagious nature of the novel coronavirus?” Moody said in a statement.
Some states have chosen to take legal action. In April, Missouri became the first U.S. state to file a lawsuit against the Chinese Communist Party over Chinese authorities’ actions to suppress information during the early stages of the outbreak. Shortly after, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced her decision to also file a lawsuit to hold Beijing accountable.
The letter said that many of the attorneys general were considering similar legal action.
In addition to the Missouri lawsuit, there are at least eight private lawsuits against the Chinese regime—potential class actions—filed in federal courts.
In late April, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis sent a “demand letter” to the Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, asking China to pay for the harm suffered by the state’s residents. Patronis said he’s considering freezing Chinese assets held by Florida to recover those funds.