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White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has offered an explanation for why he’s likened allegedly disgruntled former Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority director turned whistleblower Rick Bright to a wartime deserter.
“Here’s what happened with Rick Bright, and it’s an American tragedy, George,” he said while speaking this Sunday morning with ABC News host George Stephanopoulos.
“This guy is quite talented, but he was asked to be the field commander over at NIH to storm the testing hill with a billion dollars behind him. Instead of accepting that mission, he deserted. He went into a fox hole, wrote up the complaint. And now he’s part of a Capitol Hill partisan circus where he’s just become another pawn in the game.”
And Navarro would know given his position in the Trump administration.
“I report directly to the president. I’m one of the top five policy advisers to the president, so everything I was doing with the help of Rick Bright and others during February, was the White House, was the Trump White House. It was all transparent with the task force,” he explained.
Listen below (disable your adblocker if the video doesn’t appear):
“And the tragedy, George, is this man has talent. He’s a smart man. We could have used him on the battlefield. He’s not there now. And it was because of the decisions that he made. And it is a shame, George,” Navarro added.
Stephanopoulos responded by asking why Bright, whose expertise is reportedly in vaccines, has been transferred to a unit focused on diagnostic testing.
In response, Navarro argued the question is irrelevant.
“So, here’s the thing, George, I was — I’ve been with the president since the campaign, right?” he said. “I came here to do trade policy, right? What am I now? A conscript in the war on the China virus. I’m like a quartermaster and a shipping clerk half the time.”
“Do I complain? No. That’s my mission for this president, for this country. We do what we have to do when we have to do it for this country.”
His point was that the Trump administration needed Bright at the National Institutes of Health, so it moved him, case closed.
“And Rick Bright, he made a choice,” Navarro added. “He could have been making a tremendous contribution over at NIH to testing and you and others have been complaining about testing. He could have been the field general. And now, he’s off the battlefield and it was by his own choice, sir.”
According to President Donald Trump, it’s a choice that was motivated by disgruntlement — much like the choices made by the self-absorbed former officials who testified against him during the impeachment hearings earlier this year.
I don’t know the so-called Whistleblower Rick Bright, never met him or even heard of him, but to me he is a disgruntled employee, not liked or respected by people I spoke to and who, with his attitude, should no longer be working for our government!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020
Bright burst into the public consciousness when he filed a whistleblower complaint about two weeks ago alleging that his early warnings about the pandemic were ignored and accusing the administration of removing him from BARDA over his opposition to the use of the potential coronavirus “miracle cure” hydroxychloroquine.
On April 20th, Bright was reassigned to the National Institutes of Health “as part of a bold plan to accelerate the development and deployment of novel point-of-care testing platforms,” according to an emailed statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human that was issued at the time.
The statement fits with exactly what Navarro said Sunday.
What doesn’t fit are Bright’s claims. The earliest official warnings about the pandemic were reportedly provided by Navarro himself via a memo issued on Jan. 29th. Bright’s memo meanwhile was reportedly written on Feb. 8th.
Navarro wrote more memos than we knew of previously about the coronavirus, one of the few people who appear to have been consistently describing it as a major threat https://t.co/cBMghra74v
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) May 5, 2020
Moreover, interest in re-positioning Bright within the administration because of certain unspecified problems had predated the coronavirus crisis by a year.
“I talked to officials dating back to last year about frustrations with Dr. Bright and plans to move him early this year, even before we knew that COVID-19 was on the horizon,” NPR’s Dan Diamond revealed last Wednesday.
Politico meanwhile spoke with Bright’s former colleagues, and the picture they painted wasn’t pretty.
“Some of his allegations about department decisions on Covid-19 don’t match officials’ statements or the public record,” the outlet has confirmed.
“And Bright’s central claim that he was ousted for battling Trump appointees over science is less than certain given that some of his own staff spent months raising concerns about his leadership, including a complaint filed by a person in Bright’s office last summer.”
It’s unclear why that veritable whistleblower complaint against Bright hasn’t been publicized yet.
What does appear to be clear is that Bright’s far from the heroic figure that liberal Democrats like to portray him as.
Whether he’s a veritable wartime deserter, however, is up to you to decide.
Navarro for his part originally described him as a deserter during an appearance Thursday on Fox News’ “Outnumbered.”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) May 14, 2020
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