At a moment total US COVID-19 cases fast approaches one million, President Trump has again lashed out at China but this time with a very specific threat to bill the county of the devastating coronvirus' origin more that $160 billion for the 'substantial' amount for damages caused by the pandemic.
Trump made the comments from the Rose Garden at the White House Monday after he was pressed by a reporter over a German newspaper report suggesting that China should be issued a $160 billion invoice for the impact on Europe's economy.
The president responded he had a "much easier" idea: "We have ways of doing things a lot easier than that," Trump told the coronavirus press briefing. "Germany’s looking at things, and we’re looking at things, and we’re talking about a lot more money than Germany’s talking about."
"We haven’t determined the final amount yet. It’s very substantial," Trump added, suggesting it would be significantly more than the $160 billion floated in German media.
He argued that amid other failings, ultimately Beijing could have stopped the deadly disease at the source when it was first identified in Wuhan in December, though was present in November.
Hinting at sanctions despite also touting a positive relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump told the briefing further, "There are a lot of ways you can hold them accountable."
"We’re doing very serious investigations, as you probably know. And we are not happy with China. We are not happy with that whole situation," he said. "Because we believe it could have been stopped at the source. It could have been stopped quickly, and it wouldn’t have spread all over the world."
Meanwhile The Daily Mail reports of the original German newspaper report which triggered the exchange as follows:
Last week German paper Bild calculated an 'invoice' of nearly €150billion (around $162billion) in economic damage to Germany because of the crisis.
The idea of charging reparations to China is not endorsed by the German government, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Mass describing the concept as 'illusory'.
Germany's Bild: "A time is coming when those responsible will be held accountable!"
It marks the first time President Trump has gotten this specific about coronavirus 'reparations' paid out by China, given dollar amounts were bandied about in the press briefing.
Since last month he's echoed that "China must pay!" when raising the issue of economic devastation suffered across the US as a result of the economic "pause" and widespread state lockdowns.