Attorneys general in Indiana, 13 other states: Let’s hold China accountable

Republican attorneys general from 14 states, including Indiana, asked President Donald Trump on Wednesday to form a state-federal partnership to hold China accountable for damages caused by the spread of the new coronavirus.

The letter to the president says “the Chinese communist government” may have failed to provide information or provided misinformation about the virus that led to its spread.

“The spread of COVID-19 has grievously harmed each of our States. Many of our citizens have suffered and died from this virus. Our economies have been effectively shut down. Businesses, big and small, have been devastated to the point that many will not reopen,” the letter said.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson are taking the lead on the coalition. The letter is also signed by attorneys general in Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana. Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.

“The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been disastrous,” Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said in written comments. “We must investigate whether the communist Chinese government suppressed information about this deadly virus and whether the egregious harm this virus has caused could have been prevented,”

While the coalition is made up of Republicans, Moody said in a phone interview that she wants to add more attorneys generals, including Democrats, as part of an effort to make China pay in some way for the pandemic.

“I don’t see this as a partisan issue. Holding a country accountable for misinformation or lack of action that could have mitigated the spread of this devastating virus is something of concern to all of us regardless of party,” she said. “Seeking damages is of concern to all of us.”

The letter is part of a growing call among state elected officials pointing blame at China for economic loss and deaths caused by the coronavirus, joining dozens of patients and businesses looking to sue China over the outbreak that has killed more than 83,000 people in the United States.

Trump is clearly not happy with China’s role in the spread of the virus. While not a response to the attorneys general letter, he criticized the country on Twitter on Wednesday, saying the virus began spreading just after the U.S. and China reached a trade deal.

“The ink was barely dry, and the World was hit by the Plague from China. 100 Trade Deals wouldn’t make up the difference – and all those innocent lives lost!,” Trump tweeted.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis began calling for China to be held accountable in March, saying, “How Americans view them will never be the same. They’ve never been terribly popular as a country here, but I think that we have got to hold China accountable.”

Since then, he has almost weekly criticized China and called for less U.S. reliance on the country for goods, particularly medical equipment.

Moody said the attorneys generals are examining state and federal laws to determine the best course of action against China and whether steps need to be modified to be more successful in their pursuit of accountability.

“What is the mechanism that we may utilize based on the facts that we have and based on the laws that exist or as they are modified … that we could see success at true accountability from China?” Moody said.

The letter to Trump says state and federal governments need to look at legal, economic, diplomatic and security measures that could be taken against China.

“This will allow us to share information and resources and ensure that any remedy sought takes into consideration our legal capabilities and the devastating impact the virus has had on our States,” it said.

China informed the World Health Organization of the outbreak on Dec. 31 of last year. It contacted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Jan. 3 and publicly identified the pathogen as a novel coronavirus on Jan. 8.

Chinese officials muffled doctors who warned about the virus early on and repeatedly downplayed the threat of the outbreak. However, many of the Chinese government’s missteps appear to have been due to bureaucratic hurdles, tight controls on information and officials hesitant to report bad news.

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7 thoughts on “Attorneys general in Indiana, 13 other states: Let’s hold China accountable

  1. Good luck trying to extract information out of a foreign government when the USA is trying to lay $5 – $10 trillion of liability on them. And China would have a legitimate case that we failed to mitigate our damages by our failure to take prompt and efficient countermeasures as most other developed countries have managed to accomplish. One final note: Why is Curtis Hill still referred to as “Indiana Attorney General”.

    1. As long as the investigation also includes all the intelligence information from late January and February that was ignored, sure, make sure that’s in the public record too…

      I also don’t understand why they’re spending all this time blaming China when they’ll eventually settle on the true bogeyman – Obama! Or Hillary! Or George Soros! Or Fauci! As long as someone gets the blame except Donald Trump, the investigation will be a success.

  2. the play is:

    china you had an accident and broke the world
    you owe us $10T
    we owe you $10T

    we will call it even and then we shred the T-bill registry

    that will be candidates platform this November

    1. John Q.P., that would cause a global collapse of the US bond market. You can’t just decide by fiat that you won’t honor certain bond holders since you *think* they caused you economic harm. It shows your naiveté to even suggest it. A better course would be to pursue damages via political negotiation.

    2. Ed: I am merely reporting what others are going to do and try.

      You are naive to think the threat of a bond meltdown will stop them.

      Be ready to come back and write a note retracting your off the cuff remarks.

  3. Too bad our AG’s are wasting time on this. Boo Hoo… The last world wide pandemic (1918) started in Kansas, but with wartime censorship and poor science, it took years to figure that out. How come we did not sue Kansas?

    This is all just political spin to shift the blame for a terrible response to someone else.

    AG’s should be forcing the issue on make sure people wear face masks in public, if they want to be doing something helpful for the citizens of their respective states.

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