White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Wednesday that he has “no opinion” of the doctor shown in a viral video retweeted by President Donald Trump who falsely claimed that an anti-malaria drug is a cure for COVID-19.
In a series of tweets Monday night, Trump retweeted false claims, including one featuring Stella Immanuel, a woman calling herself a doctor who falsely declared that hydroxychloroquine is a cure for coronavirus.
“I have no opinion,” Navarro said when CNN’s John Berman asked him about the doctor Trump has defended, adding that he thought Trump went about discussions regarding hydroxycholorquine in a “very sophisticated way” and called the President “the smartest guy I know.”
When pressed again by Berman to weigh in on the doctor, Navarro, who is known for his harsh critiques of those who oppose the President said, “I’m not going to be your prop in this circus.”
The comments come after Navarro wrote a seething op-ed in USA Today earlier this month, slamming the nation’s top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who he claimed “has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.” Navarro that he only heeds Fauci’s expertise with “caution” and “skepticism.”
Fauci has said he stands with the Food and Drug Administration, who revoked the emergency use authorization for the drug as treatment for the virus.
“The overwhelming, prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease,” Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in a Good Morning America interview on Tuesday morning.
On CNN Wednesday, Navarro said of Fauci, “we have different points of view.” Navarro added that he stands by the use of the drug to treat the coronavirus disease and has “tens of millions of tablets” at the ready. Navarro previously argued that his credentials as a “social scientist” qualified him to speak on medical matters with rigor.
Earlier this week, Twitter, Facebook and others, removed a viral video showing a group of doctors who call themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors” spreading unsubstantiated information about the novel coronavirus. In the viral video, Stella Immanuel, the doctor Trump retweeted earlier this week, made the unsubstantiated claim that hydroxychloroquine is a “cure for covid,” the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Further digging by the Washington Post showed that Immanuel has history of making false statements — including a claim that endometriosis is caused by sex with demons in dreams.
When pressed about the doctor in a news conference on Tuesday, Trump said Immanuel’s was a “very important voice” and called her “very impressive.”
Another member of the group of doctors, Simone Gold, tweeted after the press conference Tuesday that the group had met with Vice President Mike Pence after the video was removed from Twitter to request “assistance in empowering doctors to prescribe hydroxychloroquine without political obstruction.”
Trump’s praise of Immanuel comes as the President and other White House staff, including Navarro, have levied attacks against Fauci, who has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 36 years.
In a Monday tweet, Trump shared a post that called Fauci a “fraud” and claimed that he “misled” the American public.
Although Trump and Fauci have said in public that they have a good relationship. In interviews, Trump, who has often sought to downplay the severity of the coronavirus, which has killed close to 150,000 people across the U.S. in just a few months, has called the doctor “a little bit of an alarmist,” often seeking to undermine his wisdom in order to preserve his own re-election prospects.