In an unhinged interview Friday, the White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the Chinese government is responsible for “every bad thing we’re experiencing right now” — but he couldn’t explain why COVID-19 cases are swelling in America while other wealthy nations around the world have begun to smother the disease.
The Chinese government, Navarro told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi, “sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals over here to seed and spread the virus.”
And the novel coronavirus itself, he said, looks “like a weaponized virus” that likely originated in a lab — a claim for which the administration has not presented evidence.
Locking down the United States, Navarro asserted, will kill more people through “alcoholism, depression and the kind of economic fallout we get” than the disease itself.
The disease has killed around 130,000 people, Velshi responded. Navarro ignored him, making a different point.
Velshi repeatedly pressed Navarro on whether he actually believed the Chinese government had deliberately sent sick people overseas to infect the citizens of other nations; Navarro initially said “I don’t think it matters,” then added later that “whether it was done intentionally or not, what was intentional is to protect their country even as they sent Chinese nationals out.”
Velshi pressed: Even if that were true, he said, why is the disease so much more prevalent in the United States than elsewhere around the world?
“That’s a very interesting question, and it goes to the origins of the virus,” Navarro began, before dodging the question. When Velshi pressed again, Navarro didn’t have an answer.
“I dispute your characterization,” he said, adding: “We’re seeing spread in Iraq, across other countries, moving very rapidly. This is a virus that we have to contain.”
Navarro argued that it was important for Americans to agree on blaming China. “We need to start pointing the blame at where it originated, China,” he said.
“I get it, it’s like the agenda on the media, basically, is to focus all the negative energy at Donald J. Trump,” Navarro added, after Velshi pressed him on Trump’s failure to promote masks and social distancing.
But, Navarro said, “The Chinese Communist Party is responsible for every bad thing we’re experiencing right now.”