In an obvious attempt to deflect blame from President Trump’s dismal handling of the coronavirus pandemic in America, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro went on an extended rant on Friday, tossing out unproven conspiracy theories as if he were holding court in a QAnon forum.
Navarro, a now-infamous, bomb-throwing advocate of Trump’s more than suggested that China was somehow able to “weaponize” the virus to kill Americans, while at the same time allowing many other countries to contain the spread.
China “spawned the virus,” Navarro said. “They hid the virus. They sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals over here to seed and spread the virus before we knew.”
This prompted MSNBC host Ali Velshi to ask Navarro the obvious: “What are you talking about?”
Navarro repeated himself and tacked on another layer of conspiracy by including the WHO. “They spawned the virus,” he said. “They hid the virus from the world and the possibility of a pandemic behind the shield of the World Health Organization.”
The president’s advisor also claimed, again without providing any proof, that while China was purposely spreading the virus, “they vacuumed up the world’s protective equipment, including two billion masks.”
Asked if China was acting deliberately, Navarro first said it didn’t matter. But then said they did, and said that his stated “fact” was “beyond reproach.”
“What they deliberately did—and this is beyond reproach in terms of a fact—they deliberately allowed Chinese nationals to come to the United States, Italy and everywhere in between who were infected while they were locking down their own [domestic] transportation network,” he charged.
Navarro also found it suspicious that the virus did not disappear when the season changed as the president has promised many times.
“Everybody thought—and this was a reasonable presumption—that come summer, the heat and humidity would get rid of the virus. It doesn’t look that way. This looks more like a weaponized virus,” Navarro said.
Finally, given the chance to talk about Dr. Fauci’s insistence that Americans follow virus protocols and wear masks, Navarro took the opportunity to one-up the doctor and disparage him for not being on board when Navarro first pitched banning flights from China early this year.
“Let’s talk about Dr. Fauci just as to why he shouldn’t be viewed as the Oracle on this. On January 28, as is now known, I penned a memo which basically warned of a global pandemic from the China virus that could kill possibly millions. That was exactly the same time that the president of these great United States pulled down all the China flights,” Navarro said, adding, “You know who was fighting me in the Situation Room on that? It was Dr. Anthony Fauci. And just in that very same time period and even two a month later, Fauci was telling people that there was nothing to worry about in America.”
Navarro is correct about his early memo on the looming pandemic and his push for a travel ban from China. But according to the New York Times, his claim that Fauci did not agree for months is not true. “On the morning of Jan. 30,” the Times said in a report, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar “got a call from Dr. Fauci… and others saying they had changed their minds” about travel restrictions.
Navarro’s blame China rant was a manic 12 minutes of television for sure. But who, other than the president’s most fervent supporters, are buying this kind of theater? The appeal seems limited. But, as Trump’s poll numbers continue to plummet and the coronavirus cases continue to rise, maybe there’s nothing left but to entertain the boss. Maybe Navarro’s act was a performance for one. If so, it surely wasn’t a first from too many of the president’s surrogates. Unfortunately, it won’t be the last.