House Covid panel summons former Trump adviser Navarro

In a statement to POLITICO, Navarro called the congressional inquiry and the subpoena a “witch hunt.” “I will deliver a case on my new book ‘In Trump Time’ to members of the committee, which explains why this is really a witch hunt,” he said.

Navarro joined the administration at the beginning of President Donald Trump’s tenure as Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. When the pandemic hit, Navarro became an increasingly influential member of the White House team that responded to the virus, advising the president on supply shortages and methods to keep the U.S. economy running during shutdowns. His testimony and personal materials would help shed light on how the Trump administration responded to early warnings about the virus, its potential economic consequences, and how it went about securing goods such as masks, dresses, and fans.

Through previous testimony and document requests, the committee found that Navarro kept a daily diary of his time in the White House and used an encrypted personal email account to communicate with White House staff between February 2020 and January 2021.

In emails released by the committee in September, Hatfill is shown warning Navarro about how little scientists understood about Covid-19 and pressed for “sincere honesty.” “In fact, we have no idea how many people have been infected in the United States. We expect the first wave to spread in the United States within the next 7 days,” Hatfill said. Several days after Hatfill’s note, Navarro wrote a note to Trump, who at the time called the virus a democratic hoax, said the administration’s actions against the pandemic were “NOT fast enough.”

Despite these early warnings, the rep said. Jim Clyburn (DS.C.), chairman of the select panel, said Navarro “pursued a haphazard and inefficient approach to procurement,” according to a memo he sent to committee members Thursday.

Navarro helped lead the process of procuring medical supplies and drugs for the United States during 2020, shifting much of the responsibility to states to secure their own products in the open market. With the aim of building up the federal government’s warehouses, Navarro handed out contracts to companies with close ties to the administration without going through the normal open tender process and prioritizing securing personal protective equipment manufactured in the United States despite the lack of production capacity in the country.

During his time working on the pandemic, Navarro also pushed Covid-19 policies and science that were inaccurate and sparred with top health experts in the administration.

In August 2020, Navarro began pushing hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure for Covid-19 despite a lack of scientific evidence. In previous months, the Food and Drug Administration had issued a warning against using it outside of clinical trials and revoked the emergency use permit. But Navarro, often citing unreliable medical studies, went on to claim that the drug worked and based doctors and scientists for not advocating its use.

Perhaps most notably, Navarro developed a conflicting relationship with Anthony Fauci, one of the leaders of the Covid-19 task force. Fauci often pushed back publicly against Navarro’s ideas on how to deal with the spread of the virus, especially on the use of hydroxychloroquine. Navarro openly criticized Fauci on national television, erroneously claiming that he was responsible for the emergence of Covid-19 due to financial ties between the National Institutes of Health and a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

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