FILE – In this March 31, 2017 file photo, National Trade Council adviser Peter Navarro appears before President Donald Trump arrives to sign executive orders regarding trade in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. After striking a delicate deal with the United Arab Emirates on rules for airline competition, the Trump administration went to war with itself about what the agreement actually said. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro repeatedly contradicted the State Department’s carefully crafted script. Behind the scenes, a dizzying scene of one-upmanship, word games and subtle subterfuge played out, magnified by lobbyists seeking to exploit divisions within the Trump administration. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
After White House trade adviser Peter Navarro’s 60 Minutes appearance Sunday night, the headlines centered on an exchange with host Bill Whitaker in which Whitaker asserted as fact that US intelligence agencies had warned of a pandemic as early as November and questioned Navarro about the adequacy of the Trump administration’s preparation for the coronavirus’ entry into the United States.
When we interviewed Peter Navarro, the White House official tasked with coordinating national PPE supplies, he was, at times, more interested in questioning 60 Minutes' record than discussing the Trump administration’s preparations for COVID-19. https://t.co/ikzbCJrI5l pic.twitter.com/NQZOQwcI8y
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) April 13, 2020
Pouncing on Navarro’s challenge, 60 Minutes tweeted out a lame attempt at a “gotcha” the next morning.
Peter Navarro, the White House official tasked with coordinating national PPE supplies, challenged 60 Minutes to show him our past reporting on pandemics. In 2005, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned 60 Minutes the nation wasn’t prepared for a pandemic. https://t.co/6Vg0pdgICE pic.twitter.com/Rg3LDwvLkI
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) April 13, 2020
The interview wasn’t supposed to be centered on the Trump administration’s response, Navarro says, and that topic was only a small portion of the interview. Speaking with the Daily Caller, he said that when he was approached by a 60 Minutes producer the topic was:
“[H]ow America had off-shored its medical supply chain and why some of our healthcare workers on the front lines haven’t had enough personal protective equipment.
“That’s an important story,” he explained over the phone Tuesday, “but not the one 60 Minutes aired.”
During standard pre-interview discussions with the 60 Minutes producer, Navarro said the central topic was “Beijing’s role in the deaths of Americans and victims around the world.”
“I had numerous conversations with the producer about how the virus originated in Wuhan and how, while China hid the lethality of the virus from the world, the Chinese Communist Party vacuumed up nearly all of the world’s PPE, leaving health care workers defenseless from New York and Milan to Barcelona and London,” the former economics professor continued. “That should have been the real story, Beijing’s role in the deaths of Americans and victims around the world.”
“Mr. Whitaker broadly claimed intelligence reports anticipated the pandemic but when I pressed Whittaker repeatedly in the unaired full interview, he could not name the exact news stories or any of the individuals quoted by name in the stories,” Navarro told Daily Caller. “It strains credulity that America’s intelligence community would allow Chinese diplomats to come into the White House on January 15 if there were deep concerns within the IC prior to that date.”
Navarro says the entire interview lasted for two hours and has issued another challenge to CBS: Release the full, unedited interview in the interest of transparency. So far, they have declined.
As Los Angeles County GOP committee member Roxanne Beckford Hoge says:
Any @gop candidate, cabinet member, representative or @realDonaldTrump admin member who does interviews without their own camera running for the entire thing is taking unacceptable risks. “Trust, but verify.”
Next time, @PeterNavarroUSA https://t.co/GLWtya20Ff via @dailycaller
— Roxanne Beckford Hoge (@RoxanneForAD46) April 15, 2020
“Any @gop candidate, cabinet member, representative or @realDonaldTrump admin member who does interviews without their own camera running for the entire thing is taking unacceptable risks. ‘Trust, but verify.'”