Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar pushed back against White House economic adviser Peter Navarro on Monday after the adviser took a shot at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the day before.
“The comments regarding the CDC are inaccurate and inappropriate,” Azar said during an interview on Fox News in response to Navarro’s claim that the CDC’s limited testing ability “really let the country down” in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HHS secretary defended the CDC’s initial testing process, arguing that it “was never going to be the backbone of testing” in the U.S.
“That’s not the CDC that’s really leveraging this whole-of-government approach that the President has marshaled here,” Azar said.
A senior CDC official apparently didn’t take too kindly to Navarro’s comment either.
“We should remind Mr. Navarro that the CDC is a federal agency part of the administration,” the unnamed official told CNN. “The CDC director is an appointed position, and Dr. [Robert] Redfield was appointed by President [Donald] Trump.”
“If there is criticism of the CDC, ultimately Mr. Navarro is being critical of the President and the man who President Trump placed to lead the agency,” the official continued.
Navarro swiped at the CDC during an interview on “Meet the Press” when NBC News anchor Chuck Todd asked the White House adviser if President Donald Trump has confidence in the agency to lead the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“First of all, you should ask the President that question, not me,” Navarro replied. “But early on in this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down with the testing.”
“Because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test,” he continued. “And that did set us back.”
Watch Azar below:
HHS Secretary Azar says Peter Navarro's comments were "inaccurate and inappropriate." pic.twitter.com/AKBJ741o7z
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) May 18, 2020