White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro's interview with Jake Tapper on State of the Union Sunday morning did not go well, and that is likely an understatement. Navarro came on planning to push the standard White House lis about COVID, trade, the economy, the "recovery" and how amazing Donald Trump has done as President and Dear Leader and King.
But Tapper was incredulous on all points, especially when it came to Trump's lies about the deadliness of COVID, the fact that Woodward had him on tape acknowledging how deadly it actually was well before he told the public and the fact that the public statements Trump made actually made the outbreak worse due to the public, largely Trump supporters, not believing it was any worse than the flu.
Here is a bit of the back and forth:
TAPPER: Fine, you want to talk about that? Let's turn to that. I want you to take a listen what president Trump told Woodward in private on February 7th.
(clip) TRUMP: You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flus. This is more deadly. This is 5% versus 1% and less than 1%. This is deadly stuff.
TAPPER: That's February 7th. He's stating that the coronavirus is five times deadlier than the regular influenza. Now here's what he was saying publicly two weeks later. take a listen.
(clip) REPORTER: The flu has a fatality ratio of about 0.1%.
REPORTER: This has a fatality ratio somewhere between 2 and 3%. given that --
TRUMP: We don't know exactly. and the flu is higher than that. The flu is much higher than that.
TAPPER: So just to be clear, I'm going to give you the mic in a second. But just to be clear for people watching, on February 7th he was acknowledging to Bob Woodward behind closed doors coronavirus was five times deadlier than the flu. He was misleading the American people, why?
NAVARRO: Now that I have the mic, give me a minute to walk through the time line. Because I think this is really important. On January 31st that was basically the starting gun to fight this virus that came in from the Chinese Communist Party. 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.
TAPPER: You're wrong on that.
NAVARRO: He say saves hundreds of thousands of American lives. This is breaking news for you. In that first week of February leading up to February 7th, we here at the White House started a strategy. It basically was hope for the best, prepare for the worst, stay calm, and begin to attack this virus from China on four different --
TAPPER: I'm not giving you ten minutes to do this.
NAVARRO: Vaccines and therapeutics. So, what happened? So on February 7th --
TAPPER: I'm specifically talking about what president Trump was saying to the public in February and March.
NAVARRO: Jake, not fair here. Let me finish here.
TAPPER: You're not answering my question.
NAVARRO: On February 7th, president Trump talks to Woodward. What happens on February 9th? I write a memo that goes out to the task force here that basically outlines president Trump's strategy for dealing with the virus and in this memo, it brings to the fact that we need n95 masks.
TAPPER: No. Because you're not answering my question, Peter. The question -- you're talking about what you were doing privately.
TAPPER: Let's pause it right now. On january 29th, you were issuing a warning.
NAVARRO: This is not fair, Jake. you're constantly interrupting me and you're not letting me talk.
TAPPER: You're not answering my question.
NAVARRO: You just don't like the answer.
TAPPER: I understand your memo. We talked about this before on the show.
NAVARRO: Not this memo. Not this memo. February 9th, this is breaking news. This is not the memo I wrote on January 29th. This is a memo, Jake, that said, among other things that if we start right now, we could have a vaccine by the end of the year. And my point here, Jake, is that we're in the fog of war. We've got some people including the medical professionals saying it's no worse than the flu. 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.
It continued to break down from there, ending with a lot of back and forth and refusal to answer direct questions (shocker, I know). Tapper had facts and Navarro was not able to explain them. He tried to muddy the waters with stories of behind the scenes meetings and plans, but none is verifiable and the things that are on the record are damning.