CNN host Jake Tapper abruptly ended an interview on Sunday with White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro after Navarro blasted CNN for not being “honest with the American people.”
The interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” lasted several minutes before “things escalated quickly” and “the exchange was abruptly shut down after the conversation devolved into a political fight,” Fox News reported. Tapper accused the Trump administration and Navarro, in response, “flipped the script and accused CNN of lying to the American people, which led Tapper to end the interview.”
“You’re not honest with the American people,” Navarro replied. “CNN is not honest with the American people. Do you want to go there? We can do that.”
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back the STATE OF THE UNION. I’m Jake Tapper.
Last night, President Trump kicked off a campaign swing through the Western U.S., after a challenging week in his reelection campaign, with new revelations about his decision to downplay the threat of the coronavirus.
Joining me now, White House trade adviser and assistant to President Trump Peter Navarro.
Mr. Navarro, thanks so much for joining us.
So, you just heard Mayor Garcetti of Los Angeles saying that they work well with federal partners, but it does seem like the response from the federal government, especially the attention and enthusiasm from President Trump, depends on whether or not it is a red or blue state suffering from a disaster.
What’s your response?
PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: Well, that’s offensive.
If you look at what President Trump did, for example, for the city and state of New York, it was an incredible transfer of resources up there, ships, PPE. Everything that New York wanted, they got.
So, please, Mr. Garcetti, take care of Los Angeles better than you are doing.
I would — if — one of the things I’d like to do before we get started, though, is, I would really like to congratulate President Trump on being nominated for the Peace Prize, the Nobel Peace Prize, because this last week, if you look at the signal, rather than the noise, he brokered a second…
NAVARRO: … deal with Bahrain. We have got Mike Pompeo, a real warrior for peace, in Qatar trying to broker a deal to get us out of Afghanistan.
TAPPER: So, I — OK.
NAVARRO: We’re withdrawing troops from Iraq.
NAVARRO: And we have relative stability on the Korean Peninsula.
NAVARRO: So these are big…
TAPPER: I understand.
NAVARRO: … issues that I think is important.
But go ahead.
TAPPER: All right, I want to keep talking about the fires in your former home state of California.
TAPPER: I want you to listen to what California Governor Gavin Newsom had to say about what’s happening in his state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The debate is over around climate change. Just come to the state of California. Observe it with your own eyes. It’s not an intellectual debates. It’s not even debatable any longer. This is a climate damn emergency. This is real. And it’s happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, I don’t think I have to convince you of this, because, in a paper that you co-wrote 20 years ago, when you were a professor at U.C. Irvine, you called climate change — quote — “one of the most important environmental problems of our time.”
Unfortunately, I think you might be alone in the White House in holding that view that is scientific consensus.
TAPPER: Is anyone at the White House listening to you on this issue? NAVARRO: I think what’s important now, as the entire West Coast is
suffering from these fires, is to think about how to manage these fires.
And I equally believe that what we have seen in California — and I have seen this firsthand — is that, for many, many years, particularly because of budget cutbacks, there was no inclination to manage our forests. That’s actually a real issue, Jake.
And whether or not it’s 10 percent or 90 percent…
TAPPER: Isn’t climate change also — isn’t climate change also a real issue?
NAVARRO: Look, I’m not — that’s not my expertise, Jake.
And, really, I came here to talk about a lot of things.
NAVARRO: That was the last on my list.
NAVARRO: Let’s pray for the people of California right now. And once we put the fires out, let’s have that debate.
But I — one of the things I do want to talk about — and Garcetti said something about this which I think was wrong — is this thing about the Woodward’s seriousness issue, OK?
And let me — let me explain something here.
TAPPER: Well, let’s talk about that.
TAPPER: Fine. You want to talk about, let’s turn to that.
NAVARRO: Yes, let’s turn to that.
TAPPER: Let’s turn to the revelations from Bob Woodward’s book, which comes out on Tuesday.
NAVARRO: Sure. Sure.
TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to what President Trump told Woodward in private on February 7.
NAVARRO: Great. That’s a great day to start.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: You just breathe the air, and that’s how it’s passed. It’s also more deadly than your — your — even your strenuous flus.
This is more deadly. This is 5 per — this is 5 percent vs. 1 percent and less than 1 percent. So this is deadly stuff.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, that’s February 7.
TAPPER: He’s stating that the coronavirus…
TAPPER: … is five times deadlier than the regular influenza.
Now, here’s what he was saying publicly two weeks later. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, you talked about the flu and then in comparison to the coronavirus. The flu has a fatality ratio of about 0.1 percent.
GUPTA: This has a fatality ratio somewhere between 2 and 3 percent. Given that and the fact…
TRUMP: Well, we think — we think — we don’t know exactly what it is.
GUPTA: Based on the numbers so far…
TRUMP: And the flu is higher than that. The flu is much higher than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NAVARRO: All right. Now…
TAPPER: So, just to be clear — I’m going to give you the mic in a sec, but just to be clear for people watching…
TAPPER: … on February 7, he was acknowledging to Bob Woodward behind closed doors coronavirus was five times deadlier than the flu.
Less than two weeks later, he was saying the exact opposite in public to Sanjay Gupta. He was misleading the American people. Why?
NAVARRO: OK. Let me — now that I have the mic, give me — give me a minute to walk through the timeline, because I think this is really important.
On January 31, that was basically the starting gun to fight this virus that came in from the — from the Chinese Communist Party. Let’s not forget where this started. And that was a signal from this president that that was — 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: No, he wasn’t.
NAVARRO: … who later had to apologize.
TAPPER: No, he wasn’t. And he didn’t apologize.
NAVARRO: Well, I will — we will do the fact-check on that. I watched that.
TAPPER: I just did.
NAVARRO: All right. Well, you’re wrong.
NAVARRO: So, January 31, pulls down the flights, saves probably hundreds of thousands of American lives.
Now, what happened then, Jake? Here’s what’s important. This is breaking news for you.
In that first week of February, leading up to February 7, 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 vectors.
NAVARRO: Hang on. Let me have the mic here.
TAPPER: Well, I’m not just — I’m not giving you 10 minutes to do this.
NAVARRO: PPE, therapeutics, vaccines…
TAPPER: Uh-huh. OK.
NAVARRO: … and — and therapeutics, OK?
So, what happened? So, on February 7…
TAPPER: I’m specifically talking about what President Trump was saying to the public…
TAPPER: … in February and March.
NAVARRO: You’re not — Jake, not fair here. Let me finish here.
TAPPER: You’re not answering my question.
NAVARRO: So, on February 7, President Trump talks to Woodward.
What happens on February 9? This is the most important thing.
A memo — 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 effect that we need N95 masks, that we need to go after thera…
TAPPER: Did your…
NAVARRO: Hang on. Hang on. Let me finish this, Jake.
TAPPER: No, because you’re not answering my question, Peter.
NAVARRO: Jake, I am.
TAPPER: The question is, about what is the president — you’re talking about what you were doing privately.
NAVARRO: Jake, Jake, Jake…
TAPPER: Let me — let’s posit right now…
NAVARRO: Now, hang on, Jake. Jake…
TAPPER: On January 29, you were issuing a warning.
TAPPER: You were saying behind closed…
NAVARRO: This is not fair, Jake.
TAPPER: You’re not answering…
NAVARRO: You’re constantly interrupting me, and you’re not letting me talk.
TAPPER: You’re not answering my question. Why was he misleading the public?
NAVARRO: I am answering it. You just don’t like the answer, Jake.
TAPPER: I understand your memo. We have talked about this before on this show.
NAVARRO: No, no, no, not this memo, not this memo. February 9 — this is breaking news. This is not the memo I wrote on
January 29 in support of the president’s decision to pull down the travel ban, which saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
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 have got some people, including the medical professionals, saying, it’s no worse than the flu. We have 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.
TAPPER: We have heard — we have…
NAVARRO: And that’s what we did.
NAVARRO: And, so, look…
TAPPER: So, we have heard government officials say that the president should have been straightforward with the American people, and he was, not just Democrats, by the way.
NAVARRO: The president…
TAPPER: I want you to take a listen.
TAPPER: Here’s Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, followed by Democratic Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey. Take a listen to them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): The American people can take hard facts.
And he had an obligation, as president, to be straightforward with them.
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): If we had known that earlier, we would have shut the state meaningfully earlier. It’s inconceivable to me that we wouldn’t have been able to save lives as a result of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NAVARRO: All right, may I respond now, Jake? May I respond?
TAPPER: Bipartisan consensus, bipartisan consensus yet — that the president should have been straightforward.
NAVARRO: Can I respond here, Jake, OK?
Yes, go back to February and March. We’re in the fog of war from the China virus. There are competing views as to whether this is simply the flu or whether this is very serious.
TAPPER: What are the competing views?
NAVARRO: And we go through — hang on.
The scientists said — look, you had…
TAPPER: You’re talking about something else.
NAVARRO: You had Nancy Pelosi dancing with scarves in Chinatown at the end of February, saying, come on down. You had de Blasio and Cuomo in March saying, come on down.
You had Dr. Fauci saying that there was low risk.
TAPPER: Why wasn’t the president straightforward with the American people? Why…
NAVARRO: He was straightforward.
TAPPER: No, he wasn’t.
NAVARRO: There was — look, look, Jake, Jake, I’m telling you what our strategy is.
TAPPER: Just answer the — it’s a very basic question.
Right. You want to talk about what you want to talk about, OK?
NAVARRO: You’re cherry-picking. You’re cherry-picking.
TAPPER: No, I’m not cherry-picking.
On February 7, he knew that it was in the air, that it was five times deadlier than the flu.
NAVARRO: You’re beating this — you’re beating this thing — no.
TAPPER: Five times deadlier. That’s on the tape.
NAVARRO: He expressed that to Woodward, but, at the same time, he’s getting the…
TAPPER: Two weeks later, he’s saying that the flu is deadlier than the coronavirus. Why wasn’t he honest?
NAVARRO: Jake, you just — you just don’t want to listen, Jake. You just don’t want to listen. TAPPER: I want you to answer the question.
NAVARRO: You just — I am answering your question. You just don’t like the answer.
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.
And you know what, Jake? We were at that point prepared for the worst.
In February, we were moving mountains on PPE, therapeutics, testings, and vaccines, so that, in the time that we needed those things, we got those things.
And it’s a miracle what we have been doing on vaccine development. We have a possibility of getting a vaccine by the end of the year. And I put that right in a memo on February 9, under the advice of the president, in terms of getting on this situation…
NAVARRO: … because it might be serious.
You can’t have it both ways, Jake. You simply can’t.
TAPPER: I’m not trying to have it both ways. I…
NAVARRO: In February, nobody knew. No, nobody knew…
TAPPER: You just saw the president February 7.
NAVARRO: … not the president, not you, not Nancy Pelosi, not Bill de Blasio, whether we…
TAPPER: He knew it was deadlier than the flu, and he was lying to the American people two weeks later.
NAVARRO: He expressed — no. Jake, Jake, you’re cherry-picking, OK?
TAPPER: I’m not cherry-picking.
NAVARRO: Well, you can say — look, I think…
TAPPER: Look, here it is.
NAVARRO: All of this is asked and answered, Jake.
Look, here’s the thing. It’s like…
TAPPER: He was not honest with the American people. You’re not answering the question.
NAVARRO: … you guys — that — that — you’re wrong. You’re not honest with the American people. CNN is not honest with the American people.
NAVARRO: You — you want to go there?
I mean, CNN — we can do that.
TAPPER: I said, you’re not answering the question.
NAVARRO: I have answered your question. I have answered your question.
TAPPER: Here’s the thing.
Thank you, Peter Navarro.
We just played tape. You didn’t answer — you didn’t answer the question.
NAVARRO: I have answered — no, you can’t say that.
TAPPER: You didn’t answer the question. No, you didn’t.
NAVARRO: I answered the question repeatedly, Jake. You just didn’t like the answer.
TAPPER: OK, Peter Navarro, thank you so much. I appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
NAVARRO: You didn’t like the answer.
TAPPER: And I would just like to remind the American people watching…
NAVARRO: I answered the question. I am reminding…
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