CNN  — 

In the middle of Wednesday’s daily coronavirus task force press briefing, President Donald Trump was asked about the possibility for a rebound of the virus sometime this fall. His answer was, um, strange.

“We don’t want to rebounds after all this death – death – that we’ve suffered,” Trump said. “Not work – I don’t view it ‘work’; I view it [as] ‘death’ that was unnecessary. It should have never happened. It should have never left that little area where it started. You know it and I know it and they know it.”

Focus specifically on these two sentences: “It should have never happened. It should have never left that little area where it started.”

A virus should have never happened? How? Why? What?

Let’s start from the start.

The truth is that we still don’t have a clear picture of how the virus came to be. The initial assumption was that it had made the animal-to-human leap at at a so-called “wet market” in Wuhan. As of earlier this month, US intelligence officials are investigating the possibility that the virus actually emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan, although those familiar with the investigation have told CNN that it is one of a number of options they are exploring.

And, as CNN’s Josh Campbell, Kylie Atwood and Evan Perez have reported:

“The US does not believe the virus was associated with bioweapons research and the sources indicated there is currently no indication the virus was man-made. Officials noted that the intelligence community is also exploring a range of other theories regarding the origination of the virus, as would typically be the case for high-profile incidents, according to an intelligence source.”

So, based on what we know now, the most likely origin of the virus remains natural. The virus somehow managed to jump from animals to humans. “At this point it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural, but we do not know for sure,” said Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, earlier this month. “Mother Nature brought a virus,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Thursday. “Nothing went wrong.”

Could it be that the virus originated in a lab where the Chinese were doing some sort of experiment? I suppose so! But we don’t know that – and, as CNN’s reporting makes clear, “the US does not believe the virus was associated with bioweapons research.”

Which is important to remember in the context of Trump’s quote above. Because if the intelligence community does not believe that this was a purposeful release of a deadly pathogen – even though that is a theory that is very popular in some conservative circles – then what could Trump possibly mean when he said “it should have never happened?”

Well, I suppose Trump could be referring to the growing belief inside his administration that the Chinese government was not transparent about the spread and the mortality rate of coronavirus in its early stages. (Bloomberg News reported earlier this month on a classified document from the intelligence community suggesting China had drastically underreported its numbers.)

Let’s assume that China was not fully transparent about the impact of coronavirus on Wuhan – and the country more broadly. Even so, the idea that “it should never have left that little area where it started” assumes an ability to contain a highly transmissible virus – that no one had ever seen before – by China. Which is a very high and difficult standard – especially when you consider that the US had a several-months warning on the coming coronavirus (Trump was first asked about it in January), and we are still dealing with more than 840,000 total confirmed cases and nearly 47,000 deaths.

There is also the very real possibility that Trump was just saying things without a ton of thought behind it. Having read thousands of Trump’s words over the past three-plus years, I can tell you that when he freelances, as he often does, there is often no theory or strategy behind what he is saying. Words just come out. That’s it.

What did Trump really mean? If past is prologue, he won’t ever explain himself. He’ll just have thrown out an explosive allegation – coronavirus was a preventable crisis? – with no conclusive proof. And let conspiracy theorists lap it up.