Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
Two Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate, respectively, have introduced legislation that would allow Americans to sue the Chinese government for damages caused by the coronavirus pandemic — which U.S. officials have blamed on the Chinese.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, in the House and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., in the Senate, would allow Americans to sue the communist country in federal court by amending the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
“By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe. Their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm. It’s only appropriate that we hold the Chinese government accountable for the damage it has caused,” Cotton said in a statement.
The legislation is modeled after the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, and seeks “to provide a civil action against a foreign state for deliberate concealment or distortion of information with respect to an international public health emergency.”
“There’s an increasing amount of evidence that shows they are culpable,” Crenshaw said on “Fox & Friends" on Saturday. “So what can we do about that? Well, when Americans are wronged. We sue somebody — so let’s let Americans sue the Chinese Government.”
It comes amid increasing scrutiny about Beijing’s behavior at the beginning of the crisis. Fox News reported Friday that the U.S. is conducting a full-scale investigation into whether the coronavirus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China.
Intelligence operatives are said to be gathering information about the laboratory and the initial outbreak of the virus. There is increasing confidence that the outbreak likely originated in a Wuhan lab, not as a bioweapon — which officials have ruled out – but as part of a Chinese effort to show that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than those of the U.S.
Intelligence analysts are piecing together a timeline of what the government knew and “creating an accurate picture of what happened,” the sources said.
Once that investigation is complete — something that is expected to happen in the near-term — the findings will be presented to the Trump administration. At that point, White House policymakers and President Trump will use the findings to determine how to hold the country accountable for the pandemic.
Fox News' Bret Baier and Gillian Turner contributed to this report.