Rudy Giuliani took to Twitter on Sunday to attack the U.S. president for giving $3.7 million to the Wuhan Laboratory in China in 2017 — not realizing that it was his close ally Donald Trump that was president at the time.
The former New York City mayor tweeted a message about the funding, which was made by the National Institutes of Health, in what appears to be a failed attempt to connect former President Barack Obama to the lab which has been at the center of controversy and conspiracy theories after the coronavirus outbreak traced back to the Chinese city.
“Why did the US (NIH) in 2017 give $3.7m to the Wuhan Lab in China?” Giuliani tweeted. “Such grants were prohibited in 2014. Did Pres. Obama grant an exception?”
Why did the US (NIH) in 2017 give $3.7m to the Wuhan Lab in China?
Such grants were prohibited in 2014.
Did Pres. Obama grant an exception?
— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) April 26, 2020
As many immediately pointed out, it was Trump who was sworn in as president on January 20, 2017.
The term “President in 2017” shot to the top of Twitter trends as many slammed Giuliani for the misplaced anger.
According to a recent Snopes fact-check: “A portion of $3.7 million in grants awarded between 2014 and 2019 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to EcoHealth Alliance, a global environmental health nonprofit organization, helped fund research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. However, not all of that $3.7 million went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and not all of the funding took place under the Obama administration. Approximately $700,000 of the $3.7 million total was approved under Donald Trump.”
In April 2020, reports started to circulate that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had provided the Wuhan Institute of Virology a $3.7 million grant in 2015, while former U.S. President Obama was still in office. These reports were often accompanied by the evidence-free suggestion that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 had “escaped” from this lab and the insinuation that, since this lab reportedly received funding from the Obama administration, the pandemic was therefore Obama’s fault.
Between 2014 and 2019, the EcoHealth Alliance was awarded a series of grants totaling approximately $3.7 million by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (a division of the National Institutes of Health) to study the “risk of future coronavirus (CoV) emergence from wildlife using in-depth field investigations across the human-wildlife interface in China.” Only a portion of this money has been used to fund research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, however, and approximately $700,000 of this grant money was awarded under the Trump administration.
Despite having a grain of truth at its core, the claim that the Obama administration gave a $3.7 million grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology is therefore misleading at best. It first gained prominence on April 11, 2020, on the heels of an article published in the Daily Mail. The British tabloid claimed that it had obtained documents showing that coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been funded by a $3.7 million grant from the U.S. government.