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When President Donald Trump announced he would be halting U.S. funding to the World Health Organization last month, Sen. Lindsey Graham had called for a change in the agency’s leadership.
Weeks later, with Trump poised to restore part of that funding, the South Carolina Republican’s remarks calling for the WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to resign come to mind. Graham demanded new leadership to head up the World Health Organization in April, and he had just the person for the job.
The GOP member of the Senate Appropriations Committee spoke about the need for new WHO leadership in an interview on ABC’s “The View” last month and suggested Microsoft founder Bill Gates for the position.
“What I want to see [is] a change of leadership because I think they conspired with China to downplay the nature of the virus,” Graham said at the time.
“They reported all through January there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. I’ve lost confidence. The money that’s being suspended will go to other people throughout the world to deal with health issues,” the Kentucky Republican added.
“The WHO has great scientists, but it’s lost confidence — I’ve lost confidence in the leadership. So a guy like Bill Gates — if Bill Gates was in charge of the WHO, I would double the funding because I think we need a WHO, but he’s not,” Graham said.
Trump decided to cut off funding of the WHO in April as it came under increasing scrutiny for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and for being influenced by the government in China, with many condemning the director-general for carrying water for the communist government.
“Dr. Tedros Adhanom has thoroughly disgraced himself and his organization for four years, but particularly throughout this virus epidemic,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Friday, as he reported on a draft letter obtained by “Tucker Carlson Tonight”
“We’re told the president supposedly has agreed to sign the letter if he hasn’t already,” Carlson said, referring to the five-page draft which is addressed to the WHO’s Director-General and reportedly said the U.S. “will continue to partner and work with the WHO and agree to pay up to what China pays in assessed contributions.”
Fox News contributor Dr. Marc Siegel slammed the idea and begged the president not to restore funding until there has been a “huge overhaul” of the agency.
Trump on brink of restoring WHO funding, letter reveals. Dr. Siegel begs, ‘please don’t sign anything’ https://t.co/idvDsb74H0
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 16, 2020
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs prompted a direct response from Trump when he questioned the wisdom of re-funding the WHO. The president tweeted back to say “this is just one of numerous concepts being considered.”
Lou, this is just one of numerous concepts being considered under which we would pay 10% of what we have been paying over many years, matching much lower China payments. Have not made final decision. All funds are frozen. Thanks! https://t.co/xQUzHy4NDa
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2020
Apparently, Sen. Graham had considered Gates at the helm of the agency as a positive part of any “overhaul” though he still criticized the billionaire who slammed Trump’s decision to halt funding.
Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) April 15, 2020
Gates, whose charity foundation is already the second-largest donor to the organization, pledged an additional $150 million contribution with his wife, Melinda Gates, to the WHO last month following the president’s decision.
“I have a lot of respect for Bill Gates and his work in the public health arena,” Graham said in a statement last month.
“The Gates Foundation, under Bill and Melinda’s leadership, has a reputation for investing in programs which are well-run and produce results,” he added, before offering a caveat. “However, Bill Gates’ decision to defend the performance of the WHO during the coronavirus crisis and current WHO leadership ignores overwhelming evidence of China bias and incompetence.”
The software developer has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, and said in March that the U.S. “did not act fast enough to have an ability to avoid the [coronavirus] shutdown.” Gates called Trump’s decision to defund the WHO “as dangerous as it sounds.”
The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, a testing program funded by Gates, was halted by the Trump administration this week as it appeared to have ventured beyond the original scope of its studies.
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