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CNN’s Jake Tapper abruptly ended what had become a testy interview with White House adviser Peter Navarro after he called out the network for being dishonest in its coverage of the Trump administration.
The interview started to go off the rails after played audio and video clips of President Donald Trump’s statements to Washington Post correspondent and author Bob Woodward about the alleged severity of COVID-19 on February 7 versus his public comments to reporters two weeks later.
“He was misleading the American people. Why?” Tapper demanded.
Navarro began to review a “timeline” of the president’s early actions indicating Trump understood the severity of the virus as the outbreak was emerging in the U.S. Navarro noted specifically that one of the first things the president did was cut off most travel from China, which he said likely saved “hundreds of thousands of lives.”
The White House adviser then noted, correctly, that for Trump’s action, he was called “a xenophobe and a racist” by then-Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, adding he later apologized.
Tapper immediately disputed that. “No, he wasn’t no he wasn’t. And he didn’t apologize.”
“Well, we’ll do the fact check on that, I watched that,” Navarro shot back.
“I just did,” said Tapper.
“Well, you’re wrong,” Navarro responded.
“Nope,” said Tapper.
Continuing, Navarro said he had “breaking news” for Tapper. He explained that in the first week of February, “we here at the White House started a strategy, it was basically hope for the best, prepare for the worst, stay calm, and begin to attack this virus on four different vectors.”
As Tapper tried to break in, Navarro pushed back. “Let me have the mic here,” he said.
“Well, I’m not gonna give you 10 minutes to do this,” a disdainful Tapper replied.
As Navarro continued to try to explain the timelime, Tapper accused him of dodging the question and cut him off repeatedly.
“This is not fair, Jake. You’re constantly interrupting me and you’re not letting me talk,” Navarro shot back as both talked over each other. “You just don’t like the answer.”
Eventually, Navarro was able to explain the contents of a Feb. 9 memo which outlined the administration’s overall strategy: Focus on PPE production, therapeutics, vaccines, and testing.
The White House adviser then defended the president’s comments, noting that at the time, “nobody knew” how serious the virus would eventually be.
Tapper exclaimed, “You just saw the president…Feb. 7!”
“No, not you, not Nancy Pelosi, not Bill deBlasio,” Navarro argued.
At that, Tapper accused President Trump of “lying to the American people” two weeks after making his statements to Woodward, asking Navarro why the government has not been more open about COVID-19.
“Why wasn’t the President straightforward with the American people?” Tapper asked.
“You’re cherry-picking…You just don’t want to listen, Jake,” said Navarro.
Tapper said the president “knew [COVID] was deadlier than the flu” and “was lying to the American public two weeks later.”
Navarro threw that back at Tapper.
“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.”
At that, Tapper accused Navarro of dodging his question and quickly cut off the interview as the White House adviser claimed that he did.
“Okay. Peter Navarro, thank you so much. I appreciate your time today,” Tapper said.
“And I would just like to remind the American people watching that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, and the United States has more than 20 percent of the world’s coronavirus deaths. That is a fact. It does not matter how many times he insults CNN,” Tapper said.
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