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Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman says evidence suggests coronavirus was not man-made or released from lab

The Pentagon’s top uniformed official on Tuesday maintained that available evidence indicates the virus that has caused a global pandemic was natural and not man-made or released purposely from a Chinese lab.

“The weight of evidence — nothing’s conclusive — the weight of evidence is that it was natural and not man-made,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense: Former Navy secretary reportedly spent .4M on travel | Ex-Pentagon chief Miller to testify on Jan. 6 Capitol attack | Austin to deliver West Point commencement speech Trump's Navy secretary spent over M on travel during pandemic: report Overnight Defense: US may keep training Afghan forces in other countries | Defense chief tight-lipped on sexual assault decision | 'Swift' return to Iran deal possible, US says MORE said of the coronavirus.

“The second issue is, was it accidentally released, did it release naturally into the environment or was it intentional? We don’t have conclusive evidence in any of that, but the weight of evidence is that it was probably not intentional,” he told reporters at the Pentagon.

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Milley added that “various agencies, both civilian and U.S. government, are looking at” the issue of where the virus originated.

The Trump administration this month stepped up efforts to blame China for the pandemic, with top officials including President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoUS Olympic Committee urges Congress not to boycott Games in China Pompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates MORE pushing the unverified theory that the virus was created by Chinese researchers or accidentally released by a lab in Wuhan, China, where it was being studied.

Trump, who has come under consistent scrutiny for his own slow response to the virus domestically, has repeatedly accused China of covering up the outbreak and claimed there is significant evidence that the virus emanated from a Wuhan lab — though has not actually provided any evidence.

But Milley since last month has maintained that while the U.S. intelligence community was taking "a hard look" at the theory, it's inconclusive, and “the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural [origin].”

And Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci says school should be open 'full blast' five days a week in the fall Watch live: White House holds briefing with COVID-19 response team The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Colonial pays hackers as service is restored MORE, the nation's top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has dismissed theories the virus was man-made or released accidentally from a Chinese lab. He said available research indicated the virus evolved naturally.

Milley on Tuesday did push for the Chinese government to “open up and allow inspectors and investigators” to go into Wuhan “so that the world can know the actual original source of this [virus] so that we can apply the lessons learned and prevent outbreaks in the future.”