Peter Navarro pursued more than $1 billion in 'haphazard' COVID-19 supply contracts: report
Peter Navarro, one of former President Donald Trump's top White House trade advisors, attempted to stress the importance of acquiring critical medical supplies at the onset of the pandemic. At the time, Trump is said to have ignored the advice.
Now, new documents released as part of a congressional investigation show how Navarro took matters into his own hands as he "pursued his own ad hoc strategy that committed more than $1 billion in federal funds and has since prompted multiple probes," according to The Washington Post.
On March 1, 2020, Navarro penned a memo urging the former president to "MOVE IN 'TRUMP TIME'" to acquire critical items such as "ingredients for drugs, handheld coronavirus tests and other supplies" and protective gear needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
"There is NO downside risk to taking swift actions as an insurance policy against what may be a very serious public health emergency. If the COVID-19 crisis quickly recedes, the only thing we will have been guilty of is prudence," Navarro wrote to the president.
At the time of Navarro's memo, the United States had only confirmed 100 coronavirus cases. While the White House ignored Navarro's recommendations, the trade advisor developed his own strategy way of acquiring the items. However, this was reportedly done with very little oversight.
To do so, the Post reports Navarro "subsequently steered a $765 million loan to Eastman Kodak to produce ingredients for generic drugs, a $354 million sole-source contract for pharmaceutical ingredients to a start-up called Phlow, and a $96 million sole-source contract for powered respirators and filters from AirBoss Defense Group."
The investigative findings also detailed some of the arrangements Navarro made with a number of companies who were employed as drug manufacturers. Details about the Trump administration's loan to Kodak, known for its photography equipment as opposed to drug manufacturing, prompted a litany of congressional committee probes.
Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the subcommittee chair, on Wednesday released a statement urging Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and a number of other senior officials to disclose more information about Navarro's dealings.
Details about the letter have been published by The Washington Post.
The letter said, "These documents provide further evidence that the Trump administration failed to react quickly to the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020 despite urgent warnings, failed to implement a national strategy to alleviate critical supply shortages that were putting American lives at risk, and pursued a haphazard and ineffective approach to procurement in which senior White House officials steered contracts to particular companies without adequate diligence or competition."
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