U.S. intelligence officials have been directed to “hunt for evidence” that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab, though spies and scientists cite zero evidence for this claim.

Many of us remember the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, a colossal military blunder wherein garbage, manufactured intelligence was used as just cause to start a war that killed 4,500 U.S. soldiers and easily 100,000 Iraqis. Those death tolls sound quaint amidst the ravaging COVID-19 death tolls that now stand at a quarter million worldwide, with 5,000-10,000 more people dying every day. But the practice of a Republican commander-in-chief eagerly searching and cherry-picking whatever dubious intelligence he can find is back, as the New York Times reports the Trump administration is pressuring intelligence officials for evidence that COVID-19 was manufactured in a Chinese lab.

Even Trump’s Director of National Intelligence admits the “wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified” in his lickspittle statement this morning stressing that his office “will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo buttressed the theory in a recent appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s hyper partisan AM radio talk show. “We know that the Chinese Communist Party, when it began to evaluate what to do inside of Wuhan, considered whether the [Wuhan Institute of Virology] was, in fact, the place where this came from,” Pompeo said, citing no evidence to prove he was not merely pulling this claim out of his rear end.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology is a real laboratory, and lab accidents do happen in real life. And it’s likely the Chinese government is not an honest player here, as their reported death count is curiously not even in the top ten globally. But none of these dots can sensibly be connected to conclude “China what done grew it in a lab!”

Five leading global infectious disease experts published findings on the origin of COVID-19 in the journal Nature Medicine that said “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”

But they guy who thinks you should inject Clorox believes otherwise, and coming at a time when we’re kind or reliant on China for medical supplies.Trump’s line of argument will surely spread more racist attacks against Asian Americans, but worse yet, will direct top administration officials’ attention toward a wild goose chase conspiracy theory instead of developing real solutions to rampant unemployment, an annihilated medical supply chain, and an outbreak that’s killing a couple thousand Americans every day.

Related: Bay Area-Based Gilead Sees Potential Legal Conflict With China Over Its Coronavirus Drug [SFist]

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