White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Sunday bitterly accused CNN of being dishonest to the American people during a heated defense of President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In an 11-minute interview with CNN's "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper that veered off the rails, Navarro praised Trump’s management of the pandemic as it exploded in the United States from about mid-February.
“On January 31st that was basically the starting gun to fight this virus that came in from the Chinese communist party,” he said. “And that was a signal from this president that this is a serious, serious matter. He's taking down flights from China. He was called a xenophobe and a racist by Joe Biden.”
In the early weeks of the outbreak in the United States, he added, “We're in the fog of war.”
“We've got some people including the medical no worse than the flu,” he said. “We've got others saying that this could be a very serious pandemic. And the president is absolutely right. What he needed to do is be calm, hope for the best but prepare for the worst and attack the virus on these four vectors, PPE, therapeutics, vaccines, and testing. That's what we did.”
Tapper, however, repeatedly pressed Navarro on Trump’s recorded remarks to journalist Bob Woodward about the deadly nature of the virus and his downplaying that in public.
"I am answering your question. You just don't like the answer,” Navarro responded.
“The answer is in February all the way through the middle of March when the World Health Organization finally said there was a pandemic and China was hiding the information, finally, that's when we knew that there was a pandemic,” he asserted.
Navarro insisted he wrote a memo on Feb. 9 “under the advice of the president in terms of getting on this situation because it might be serious.”
“He was not honest with the American people. You're not answering the question,” Tapper insisted.
"You're not honest with the American people,” Navarro barked back. “CNN is not honest with the American people."
"Okay. You want to go there?” Tapper responded. "I said you're not answering the question. Thank you, Peter Navarro. We just played tape. You didn't answer the question."
"No, you can't say that," Navarro argued. “I answered the question.”
"Okay. Peter Navarro, thank you so much," Tapper concluded. "I appreciate your time today. And I would just like to remind the American people that the United States has less than 5% of the world's population, and the United States has more than 20% of the world's coronavirus deaths. That is a fact. It does not matter how many times he insults CNN."
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