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Robert O'Brien with Trump. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

National security adviser Robert O’Brien claimed Wednesday that an initial cover-up of the coronavirus in China “cost the world community two months” and exacerbated the global outbreak.

Why it matters: In the face of a global crisis, the world’s two most powerful countries are pointing fingers at one another.

What he’s saying: Asked about China’s initial response, as well as spurious claims from some Chinese officials and media that the outbreak may not have started in China, O’Brien emphasized that “this virus did not originate in the United States, it originated in Wuhan.”

  • “Unfortunately, rather than using best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up,” O’Brien said, citing instances of doctors who were “silenced."
  • “It probably cost the world community two months to respond,” he continued, adding that if teams from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been invited in early on, “I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened in China and what’s now happening across the world.”
  • Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, O’Brien echoed other administration officials in saying President Trump’s “courageous decision” in late January to block air travel from China “bought the United States six to eight weeks to prepare for the virus.”

The flipside: As China begins to get its coronavirus outbreak under control, authorities are going on the offensive to rewrite the narrative that the global epidemic is Beijing's fault, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian writes.

  • "The [Chinese Communist Party] is masterful at rewriting history and we’re watching them do it in real time," Bill Bishop, author of the Sinocism newsletter, told Axios.

Worth noting: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others have been criticized for using the term “Wuhan virus,” with critics claiming it adds unnecessary stigma and is needlessly antagonistic toward China.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Trump nominee Christopher Waller confirmed to Fed board

Christopher Waller at a Senate Banking hearing earlier this year. (Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

The Senate voted 48-47 on Thursday to confirm Trump nominee Christopher Waller to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors — filling one of the two vacant slots on the influential economic body.

Why it matters: It's one of the last marks left on the Fed board by Trump, who has nominated five of its six members.

44 mins ago - Economy & Business

Boeing gets huge 737 Max order from Ryanair, boosting hope for quick rebound

Ryanair low cost airline Boeing 737-800 aircraft as seen over the runway. Photo by Nik Oiko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dublin-based Ryanair said it would add 75 more planes to an existing order for Boeing's 737 Max airplanes, a giant vote of confidence as Boeing seeks to revive sales of its best-selling plane after a 20-month safety ban following two fatal crashes.

The big picture: Ryanair's big order, on the heels of breakthrough vaccine news, is also a promising sign that the devastated airline industry might recover from the global pandemic sooner than expected.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
48 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Trump sets auction for Arctic refuge drilling rights before Biden takes office

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Interior Department on Thursday said it will auction oil drilling leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in early January.

Why it matters: The procedural step would make it harder for President-elect Joe Biden to thwart drilling in the region, even though any actual development is years away.

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