Rudy Giuliani took to Twitter to attack the U.S. president for giving $3.7 million to the Wuhan Laboratory in China in 2017 -- not realizing that it was close ally Donald Trump in office at the time.
The former New York City mayor-turned-top surrogate for President Trump tweeted a message about the funding, which came through the National Institutes of Health. The lab has been 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?"
As many immediately pointed out, it was Trump who was president in 2017, not Obama. The term "President in 2017" shot to the top of Twitter trends as many slammed Giuliani for the misplaced anger.
It appeared that Giuliani was suggesting the funding may have been approved before Trump took office in January of 2017, but reports noted this was not entirely true either. The conspiracy theory that Obama's administration granted $3.7 million in funding has been circulating for days, prompting the rumor-busting site Snopes to address it in a post that noted the messaging was mixed.
The report noted that a portion of the $3.7 million in grants awarded between 2014 and 2019 from the NIH to the global health non-profit EcoHealth Alliance went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, but not all of it. And as the report noted, close to $700,000 of that $3.7 million in funding was approved directly by Trump, so it was not just the Obama administration directing the congressionally approved funding.
Conspiracy theorists have circulated a theory that the Wuhan-based lab may have accidentally or intentionally released the novel coronavirus that has now spread around the globe. The lab has denied having any connection to the virus, but some members of the Trump administration have pressed the lab.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro pressed for China to prove that lab played no role in the outbreak, saying it was "incumbent on China to prove" that the coronavirus did not originate from there.
"If you simply do an Occam's razor approach that the simplest explanation is probably the most likely, I think it's incumbent on China to prove that it wasn't that lab," Navarro said, via The Hill.China has also said there is no evidence to suggest that the virus originated in the lab.