U.S. President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he is halting funding to the World Health Organization while a review is conducted.

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he is halting funding to the World Health Organization while a review is conducted.

Trump said the review would cover the WHO’s “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.”

Trump’s announcement comes in the middle of the worst global pandemic in decades and as he angrily defends his own handling of the outbreak in the United States.

Amid swirling questions about whether he downplayed the crisis or ignored warnings from members of his administration about its potential severity, Trump has sought to assign blame elsewhere, including at the WHO and in the news media.

The U.S. funds $400 to 500 million to the WHO each year, said Trump, noting that China “contributes roughly $40 million.”

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“Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,” Trump said.

His decision to withdraw funding from the WHO follows a pattern of skepticism of world organizations that began well before the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has questioned US funding to the United Nations, withdrew from global climate agreements and lambasted the World Trade Organization — claiming all were ripping off the United States.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said earlier Tuesday that while the WHO and China “made mistakes,” Trump is also looking to deflect blame from his own administration.

“Right now, there is a very coordinated effort amongst the White House, and their allies to try to find scapegoats for the fatal mistakes that the President made during the early stages of this virus,” he said.

Murphy added: “It is just wildly ironic that the President and his allies are now criticizing China or the WHO for being soft on China when it was in fact the President who was the chief apologist for China during the early stages of this crisis.”

Trump said Tuesday if the WHO had acted appropriately, he could have instituted a travel ban on people coming from China sooner.

Trump said Tuesday the WHO made a “dangerous and costly” decision to oppose travel restrictions from China.

But just days before Trump instituted his ban on travelers from China, he also was praising the country.

On January 24, Trump tweeted: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”

CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

Source: Trump halts U.S. payments to WHO

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