WH’s Peter Navarro Battles CNN’s Brianna Keilar — ‘Why Do You Keep Shouting in My Ear?’

Thursday on CNN, the Trump administration’s trade and manufacturing policy director Peter Navarro sparred with anchor Brianna Keilar over a lack of protective equipment available for healthcare professionals as a result of heightened demand during the coronavirus outbreak.

Keilar asked, “In fairness, the government was clearly ill-prepared for this. This is not something that, you know, these viruses happen and how awful they are. Your government knew in the summer when they did a drill, if this happens, this would be a problem, and there was a lack of preparation, which was why we have you onto talk about the sly supply chain. It looks like it is going to be about 200,000 ventilators and what experts are saying there could be a million needed. Are you going to be able to meet that demand?

Navarro responded, “Let me bring you up on the history here of what we inherited. In ’09 when the Obama administration —”
Keilar interrupted, “Peter, why are you wasting your time on this and not solving the problem that we have?”

Navarro shot back, “I am trying to respond, and you keep on interrupting me… Let’s have this conversation. You keep on talking in my ears, and you won’t let me talk. May I speak, please?”

Keilar said, “Will you answer the question? Can you get to a million ventilators?”

Navarro said, “You started by saying this administration was ill-prepared. Let me explain to the American people this whole stockpile, which was engineered for a basically 100-year flood, and we got here with the coronavirus to 500 years flood. That’s the problem. We have woken up to the fact that we did not have adequate material in our stockpiles, and more importantly, all of our supply chains is spread out in the world at a time 10 out of top countries providing us with pharmaceuticals are imposing export restrictions. We are running as fast as we can to get the people of America what they need and searching for incredible amounts of materials in places like New York as we speak. We are having the most rapid industrial mobilization since World War II. We are doing the best we can. Don’t tell me we were ill-prepared for this because he inherited the system of testing and inherited of stockpiles that was inadequate for this, and there was plenty of people to the last two administrations who had a wake-up call, and they went back to sleep. That’s not what we are doing. We’ll fight this.”

Keilar said, “You’re wasting everyone’s time with this. It’s 2020. The president was elected in 2016. can you get to a million ventilators?”

After heated crosstalk, Navarro said, “Why do you keep shouting in my ear? I don’t understand. I’m trying to —”

Keilar said, “You’re not answering.”

Navarro said, “Watch me answer the question. We got 43,000 ventilators, at least that are coming from Phillips. We work with GM and Vent Tech, and they may be able to produce as many as 80,000 by the end of the year. Ford and GE are partnering together and eight other companies on our spreadsheets where we’re looking to get them to take up production, whatever inventory they’ve got. We’re working really hard on this and surging capacity at the places they need it. I think what’s important for CNN here is to report this in a sober way, without frightening America, and just having reasonable conversations when somebody from the White House comes on instead of just shouting in our ear.”

Keilar said, “Peter, I will tell you that one way that I think a lot of people are calming down is when they have information, and even if it’s bad news, they know the size of the problem and the government has a plan for it. That’s what we’re trying to get with you. You’re in charge of the supply chain. That’s the most pressing issue right now. I don’t know that I actually have too much of a clearer picture having spoken to you today.”

Navarro said, “If I may, when you lead with, your administration was woefully unprepared, do not expect me to accept that as fact. It’s not a fact, okay, but you should at least let me respond to it. Your administration is woefully unprepared, now, how many ventilators do you have? I mean, that’s a two-parter, right? So I’ll come on CNN any time. All I ask is civil dialogue where I have the time to speak and that we deal with the facts and just keep asking CNN, it’s like, this is the crisis of our lives. You will never experience anything like this again in your lifetime, and we need, as a people, to band together and work with this in a unified way, above party, above partisan politics, above ideology, and just solve this problem together. If we get on TV and get sensationalized and stir people up, it just leads to bad things. That’s my point. We are working as hard as we possibly can with the full force of government and the full force of private enterprise, and that’s the best we can do right now. We all, as a country, have got dealt a bad hand by China.”

Keilar shot back, “Peter, that is just a waste of time to say that. I’m going to leave it there, Peter Navarro. We’re just trying to get our hands around it. Peter Navarro, that’s it, we’re out of time.”

Navarro said, “No, hang on. Why is that a waste of time to say that?”

Keilar said, “We’re out of time, and that’s just — that’s ridiculous. Peter Navarro, thank you so much.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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