Trump Doubles Down On Threat To "Hold" $500 Million From WHO After Tedros Gets Testy

President Trump suggested on Friday that he may place a hold on US funding for the World Health Organization, which has consistently carried water for Beijing during the coronavirus outbreak - insisting that the communist regime had the disease under control, while peddling Chinese propaganda about the transmissibility of the virus.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ahanom Ghebreyesus also opposed Trump's late-January travel ban, saying "We reiterate our call to all countries not to impose restrictions that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. Such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit."

"We’re going to have an announcement on the World Health Organization some time next week," said Trump during a Friday press conference. "As you know we give them approximately $500 million a year and we’re going to be talking about that subject next week. We’ll have a lot to say about it. We’ll hold it," according to Bloomberg.

Trump added that he didn't want to make an announcement on Good Friday or before Easter.

"I also didn’t want to do it before we have all the facts," Trump added. "But over the years, many years, we’ve been paying them from $300 to $500 - and even more - million dollars a year."

As Trump endures scrutiny of his government’s response to the U.S. outbreak, some of his political allies have alleged the WHO was too trusting of Chinese assertions about the disease after it first appeared last year. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, has said he would block further U.S. funding for the international health group until it changes its leadership, calling the agency “deceptive” and “Chinese apologists” in a Fox News interview on Tuesday.

Trump echoed some of that criticism Friday, saying the organization has been “very China-centric” and that he did not believe it was “fair to the American people.” -Bloomberg

Perhaps sensing a disturbing lack of funds, the WHO announced on Thursday that it's ready to launch an appeal for over US$1 billion in funds from global governments in order to fund operations against COVID-19, according to Reuters.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a speech to diplomats on Thursday issued by the WHO, said it would release its latest plan "in the coming days".

 

"It will be well over $1 billion, maybe several billion," a Western envoy said. Another diplomat following the discussions said that the appeal would be at least $1 billion.

 

A WHO spokesman, asked about this figure, had no immediate comment.

 

It follows an earlier three-month appeal for $675 million through April, mostly for agencies operating on the ground rather than the WHO itself. -Reuters

Last Tuesday, President Trump began threatening WHO funding for being "very biased towards China."

"We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it, and we’re going to see. It’s a great thing if it works, but when they call every shot wrong, that’s not good," said Trump.

Backing Trump was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who said "I’m not going to support funding the WHO under its current leadership," adding "They’ve been deceptive, they’ve been slow, and they’ve been Chinese apologists. I don’t think they’re a good investment under the current leadership for the United States, and until they change their behavior and get new leadership, I think it’s in America’s best interest to withhold funding because they have failed miserably when it comes to the coronavirus."

In response, Ghebreyesus warned world leaders not to politicize the COVID-19 response, lest it result in "many more body bags."

The US has contributed approximately $893 million to the WHO's operations druing the last two years, according to the organization, while China has contributed around $86 million.

"We’re looking at it very, very closely," Trump said on Friday. "We want to make sure money is properly spent."

Meanwhile, former US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, had some harsh words for China last week - demanding they be investigated and held accountable for the coronavirus pandemic.