Barack Obama's Former UN Ambassador Slams Donald Trump's WHO Funding Cut: 'Sheer Madness'

Samantha Power, the former ambassador to the United Nations (UN) under former President Barack Obama, appeared on CNN's New Day on Wednesday and slammed President Donald Trump's decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO).

"If I had to sum it up, I would say sheer madness," Power said, per Fox News.

According to Power, Trump made the decision to divert attention from his performance dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's obscene. It's strictly political, really — an attempt to divert from what we all know has been a gross mismanagement of the prevention phase of this in the United States, and the response phase. "
Power called the decision "tragic," noting that the WHO is currently "moving into a phase" where it is funneling its resources into averting "catastrophe" from the COVID-19 crisis that is affecting the developing world.

Per Mediaite, Power also pointed out that Trump attempted to slash WHO funding before the coronavirus swept the globe. She claimed that his determination for such cuts stems from a desire to "ignore the warnings" being voiced by public health professionals.

As others have done, Power acknowledged that some of Trump's criticisms of the WHO — such as its kowtowing to China — are valid. But she added that all of Trump's criticisms of the organization could be turned on himself.

"The problem is, his very criticisms are ones that you could levy just as easily at him — overreliance on China, flattery of China, sucking up to China to put it in an undiplomatic way," she said.

According to Trump, the WHO funding is indefinitely halted as the U.S. waits for the results of an investigation into the organization's response to the coronavirus pandemic. As critics have noted, the WHO appeared to support China's early claims that no evidence suggested human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 was possible, which turned out to be wrong.

From 2018 to 2019, the U.S. paid almost $900 million to the WHO's budget, which is approximately one-fifth of its total for this period. In response to Trump's decision, CNN reported that WHO said it remains focused on its response to the spread of the virus, which the publication called the "worst global pandemic in decades."

In a briefing on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the organization is working to fill all of its financial gaps by working with its remaining partners. According to Ghebreyesus, the end goal is to ensure the organization's work "continues uninterrupted."