Pompeo: Trump told me to ‘shut up’ over COVID-19, stop criticism against China

This picture shows then US President Donald Trump speaking as his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, June 21, 2018. (File photo by Reuters)

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has revealed that his ex-boss Donald Trump had ordered him in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak to “shut the hell up” about China.

China’s President Xi Jinping had talked on phone to Trump to ask him personally to tell me to stop criticizing Beijing over the pandemic, US media reported on Thursday, citing Pompeo as saying in his upcoming memoir, “Never Give an Inch.”

Pompeo writes that Xi had warned Trump in the call that his Secretary of State was endangering the recently signed “phase one” trade deal, which sought to rein in the trade war between Washington and Beijing. 

The call came one day after Pompeo created a stir at a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven, accusing China of engaging in a disinformation campaign on COVID-19 and calling for the virus to be named after the Chinese city of Wuhan where it was first detected.

 “My Mike, that f—— guy hates you!” Trump reportedly said to Pompeo in March 2020 after the call with Xi.

I “honored” Trump's request in order to avoid jeopardizing a shipment of personal protective equipment the US needed from China, Pompeo states in the new memoir which is set to be released next week.

The story of Trump’s plea to Pompeo to stop commenting on the Chinese response to COVID-19 is an important component of the story of the start of the pandemic as the two Republican approach the upcoming 2024 US presidential election, possibly pitting Pompeo against his former boss.


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