Trump slams China on coronavirus, promises 'substantial' retribution to 'hold them accountable'

'We believe it could have been stopped at the source,' Trump said. 'It could have been stopped quickly, and it wouldn't have spread all over the world'

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President Donald J. Trump takes questions from reporters during a coronavirus update briefing Saturday, April 4, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House.
President Trump takes questions at April 4 coronavirus briefing in White House press room.
(White House/Tia Dufour)
Updated: April 27, 2020 - 7:43pm

President Trump said Monday that his administration was undertaking "serious investigations" for actions to take against China for not stopping the coronavirus more quickly.

"There are a lot of ways you can hold them accountable," Trump said during a press briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. "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. 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."

When asked by a reporter about a German newspaper reportedly creating a draft "invoice" to £130 billion to China for “coronavirus damages,” reportedly calculated as the economic damage done to the German economy from the coronavirus, Trump said that amount was far less than damage done to the U.S. economy.

"We could do something much easier than that," he said. "We have ways of doing things a lot easier than that. 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. If you look at the world, I mean, this is worldwide damage. This is damage to the U.S., but this is damage to the world." 

Trump said prior to the coronavirus that his administration had already been taking strong action against China, which the U.S and other countries think was slow tell the rest of the world about the virus outbreak.

"If you look prior to this virus, the deficit was coming way down under my administration because I put massive tariffs on China," Trump said. "We took in tens of billions of dollars, gave some of it to the farmers who were unfairly targeted by China. Nobody's ever done that before. We never took in 10 cents from China. Now all of a sudden, I think you know very well, we've taken in tens of billions of dollars. I helped the farmers by giving them, two years ago, $12 billion – all coming from China. And we had plenty left over, too. And then the following year, $16 billion, and this year we're also going to help our farmers."

At the White House on April 17, Trump announced the federal government will shore up farmers with a new $19 billion aid package.

"But nobody's ever done a thing like that, because they were targeted unfairly by China," he said Monday. "So we're doing a very strong investigation, and we'll let you know what the result of that is. We should be able to get the answers, too."

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