Trump administration begins formal withdrawal from World Health Organization

The Trump administration has notified Congress and the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization, multiple officials tell CNN, a move that comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas in the last week alone.

Posted: Jul 7, 2020 2:58 PM

(CNN) -- The Trump administration has notified Congress and the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization, multiple officials tell CNN, a move that comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas in the last week alone.

Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tweeted the news Tuesday.

"Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the ⁦‪@WHO⁩in the midst of a pandemic. To call Trump's response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn't do it justice. This won't protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone," he wrote.

A State Department official confirmed that "the United States' notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the UN Secretary-General, who is the depository for the WHO."

The letter addressed to the UN is very short, around three sentences, a source briefed on the correspondence told CNN, and it will trigger a one-year withdrawal timeline. However, this source also cautioned that they cannot confirm they saw the final version of the letter.

The news confirms that the administration intends to move forward with its plan to withdraw from WHO after members of the GOP China task force urged President Donald Trump last month to reconsider his decision to terminate relations with the international body, arguing the US can do more to affect change as a member.

Despite alleging that the World Health Organization "enabled" the Chinese government's sweeping cover-up of the coronavirus pandemic's origins, House Republicans ultimately disagreed with the administration's decision to withdraw from the WHO in a report released last month outlining the findings of a months-long investigation into the virus' origins.

Trump initially announced his intention to withdraw from WHO in May and has consistently accused the organization of aiding China in covering up the origins of the virus. He has also claimed that if the WHO had acted appropriately, he could have instituted a travel ban on people coming from China sooner.

While the move is likely to prompt bipartisan backlash, the decision can be reversed if Trump loses the presidential election in November, a point that was reiterated by a UN diplomat Tuesday.

"Whatever is done now can be reversed in the year to come, because it will not be final," the UN diplomat said, pointing to how long the process of withdrawal will take.

Trump's decision to permanently terminate the US relationship with the WHO follows a years-long pattern of railing against global organizations, with the President claiming that the US is being taken advantage of. The President has questioned US funding to the United Nations and NATO, withdrawn from the Paris climate accord and repeatedly criticized the World Trade Organization.

But health experts, US lawmakers and world leaders have expressed concern over defunding the organization amid a pandemic.

After Trump's announcement in May, a WHO spokesperson told CNN, "We have no comment to offer at this point."

The-CNN-Wire
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