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GOP senators target WHO as part of coronavirus probe

GOP senators target WHO as part of coronavirus probe
© Greg Nash

A group of Republican senators are homing in on the World Health Organization (WHO) as they launch a probe into the coronavirus response, which is expected to include a focus on China's handling of the disease.

Seven senators sent a letter on Tuesday to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the organization, saying they were requesting information ahead of a congressional hearing on the WHO's role in "helping the Chinese Communist Party cover up information regarding the threat of the Coronavirus."

"American taxpayers fund the WHO, and it is up to us to make sure those taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely," they added.

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GOP Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Defense: Trump campaign's use of military helicopter raises ethics concerns | Air Force jets intercept aircraft over Trump rally | Senators introduce bill to expand visa screenings Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand screening of foreign visitors Democrat announces 2022 bid for Ron Johnson's seat MORE (Wis.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungRepublicans: Supreme Court won't toss ObamaCare Vulnerable Republicans break with Trump on ObamaCare lawsuit Senate GOP eyes early exit MORE (Ind.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP cool to White House's .6T coronavirus price tag Romney calls first Trump-Biden debate 'an embarrassment' Netflix distances from author's comments about Muslim Uyghurs but defends project MORE (N.D.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesDemocrat trails by 3 points in Montana Senate race: poll Poll shows statistical tie in Montana Senate race Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid MORE (Mont.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstPence seeks to lift GOP in battle for Senate Greenfield sidelined in Iowa after staffers come in contact with person who tested positive for coronavirus Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska MORE (Iowa) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump fights for battleground Arizona Pence seeks to lift GOP in battle for Senate Activists project 'Trump failed us' onto Arizona mountain MORE (Ariz.) signed the letter.

Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is planning to use his gavel and team up with Scott to probe the U.S. and international response to the coronavirus.

The senators are requesting the WHO hand over records by April 27 involving the organization's leadership and any communications related to the coronavirus, documents related to the coronavirus, data requested and received from the Chinese government about the coronavirus and any documents describing the WHO's coronavirus research.

The senators also want to know what "protocols and procedures" the WHO had in place for epidemics and pandemics before December and an outline of steps it took in accordance with those guidelines as a result of the coronavirus.

They also want to know when the health organization first became aware of a "SARS-like virus" within China, when it first sent personnel to China to start investigating the virus, who was responsible for coordinating with the Chinese government and if any members of WHO leadership receive outside compensation beyond the organization.

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The WHO has garnered criticism from Trump and GOP lawmakers over its response to the coronavirus. Republicans sent a letter to the WHO earlier this month over its relationship with China.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBarrett confirmation stokes Democrats' fears over ObamaCare On The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Grassley: Voters should be skeptical of Biden's pledge to not raise middle class taxes MORE (R-Iowa) also sent a letter to Tedros to the organization about the failure to contain the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, there is ample reason to question WHO’s response to early signs of this outbreak in China. The lack of independent analysis and advice in the face of initial misleading public messaging from China has resulted in several countries scrambling to make up for lost time,” Grassley wrote.