Days after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro faced criticism from within the Trump administration for blasting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN anchor Jake Tapper valiantly tried and failed on Wednesday to get Navarro to address the controversy.
During an appearance on Meet the Press this past Sunday, Navarro threw the CDC under the bus, fully blaming the center for the administration’s early issues with coronavirus testing and claiming it “really let the country down” due to bad tests.
Navarro’s remarks about the CDC were quickly rebuked by Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar, who told Fox News the following day that the Trump aide’s comments were “inaccurate and inappropriate.”
Noting that sources are now telling CNN that CDC Director Robert Redfield is now worried about his job, Tapper kicked off his Wednesday interview with Navarro by pressing him about his negative CDC remarks.
“Do you think he should be removed?” Tapper wondered aloud, prompting Navarro to immediately begin dodging and deflecting.
“Not my lane by a long shot, Jake,” the White House adviser replied before boasting about America’s production of ventilators, adding, “So that’s what I’m focused on. I’ll let you guys do the CDC stuff but not going to happen with me.”
The CNN anchor, undeterred, pointed out that the only reason they were having the conversation about the CDC was due to Navarro’s own comments. He then went on to air Azar’s refutation as well as remarks from White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett, who said the CDC is “doing the best they can” and that he “wouldn't criticize” them.
Rather than address their admonishment of his CDC denunciation, Navarro instead spent several minutes bragging about a contract the administration gave a little-known company to manufacture pharmaceuticals in America.
After Tapper humored Navarro a bit longer and pressed him on concerns about that contract, the anchor once again deftly swung it back to the CDC issue.
“You’ve been very agile in dodging the questions, but just when Alex Azar and you had this conversation about all these wonderful developments, did he repeat to you that he thought your comments about the CDC were inappropriate and inaccurate?” Tapper asked.
“We’re not going back,” a laughing Navarro responded. “You can fish all you want on CDC today, but this fish ain’t biting. I think what I love to do when I talk with folks on CNN like yourself, I just want to talk about jobs, manufacturing, the security of our supply chain.”
Tapper eventually waved the white flag, but not before pointing out why he was grilling Navarro on this situation in the first place.
“I’m going to move on from the CDC issue but just for the record, you’re the one that caused the entire brouhaha,” he concluded.