Peter Navarro spars with CNN host, says government ‘sitting on millions of doses’ of hydroxychloroquine
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro accused CNN’s John Berman of using him as a “prop” during a heated interview on Wednesday morning over malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and President Trump’s defense of a controversial doctor who touted the drug as a coronavirus “cure.”
Navarro’s appearance on CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday morning comes one day after President Trump, during a White House news briefing, faced questions about Dr. Stella Immanuel from CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins.
Trump abruptly ended the tense press conference, after he defended the Houston doctor as “very impressive” for touting hydroxychloroquine — just hours after Twitter deleted the president’s retweet of a video featuring Immanuel speaking about the drug.
On Monday, Trump retweeted the viral video, which included several doctors, including Immanuel. Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook removed the video after millions viewed it. In the video, Immanuel insists, “Nobody needs to get sick. … This virus has a cure.”
At the briefing, Collins highlighted some of Immanuel’s past comments, including that alien DNA is being used in medical treatments and that doctors want to make people immune from religion.
“She was on-air, along with many other doctors. They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine. I thought she was very impressive. … She said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients and I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her,” Trump said.
Collins continued shouting questions, prompting the president to head out.
Under questioning from a different reporter earlier in the briefing, Trump defended his previous positions on hydroxychloroquine, saying he believes it “has an impact,” especially in the early stages of coronavirus infection.
Berman asked Navarro on Wednesday, “What’s your opinion of Dr. Stella Immanuel?”
“I have no opinion. I saw the brief, I have no knowledge of her,” Navarro said in response.
Berman interjected saying, “Hang on … just so people know who does [sic] have knowledge of her, the president of the United States — the president of the United States does and he promoted her views at the White House briefing yesterday.”
He then pointed to the statements made by Trump during Tuesday’s news conference where he said Immanuel offered “an important voice.”
Berman said, “The president is promoting Dr. Stella Immanuel” and noted that on Tuesday Trump “tweeted out what she said.”
“She has also said Peter, just so you know, if you don’t know about her… ” Berman said, before he was interrupted by Navarro who said, “I heard this in your opener.”
“She said alien DNA in medical treatment, gynecological issues caused by sex with witches and demons in dreams, scientists creating a vaccine to prevent people from being religious,” Berman continued.
“I know you’re having fun with this,” Navarro said.
“Oh, God, I’m not having fun with this. This is deadly serious,” Berman hit back.
He then said, “My question is, why lean on Stella Immanuel to make a medical point?”
Navarro responded: “So, look, my mission here is to help the president save lives and create jobs and this issue of hydroxychloroquine, what the president was talking about, I thought he did it in a very sophisticated way yesterday because he pointed out that it’s only efficacious in early treatment.
“What I would suggest, don’t believe me, don’t believe Dr. [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony] Fauci, we have different points of view, bring on somebody like William O’Neill, the doctor who did the Detroit hospital study.”
“I have spoken to William O’Neill,” Berman responded.
Navarro then went on to list the names of other doctors, including Dr. Harvey Risch, an epidemiology professor at Yale School of Public Health.
“It’s not fair to me John,” Navarro said.
“It is,” Berman said.
He then acknowledged that Trump “did quote Dr. O’Neill” and “Dr. Risch at Yale,” adding that he also “talked about Stella Immanuel.”
“He talked about this doctor who promotes demon seed,” Berman continued.
Navarro interrupted saying, “Do me a favor, John. I have absolutely nothing to say about that. I know nothing about her and if you want to use me as a prop to kind of play her clips…”
“I don’t,” Berman responded.
“Because I have got stuff to talk about to you, if I may,” Navarro said.
Berman then noted that Navarro “talks about hydroxychloroquine a lot.”
“And I stand by it,” Navarro said. “I’m sitting on millions of doses of it, and you know what, how many Americans died yesterday, John?”
“1,200,” Berman responded.
“Right,” Navarro said. “If the Ford study is right, half of those people would still be alive.”
According to a study published by Henry Ford Health System earlier this month, treatment with hydroxychloroquine cut the death rate significantly in sick patients hospitalized with the novel coronavirus without heart-related side-effects.The research is preliminary, and other studies have found different results.
Berman said, “The Ford study, we have reported on on this broadcast and just so people know, that while the study did find that it had some effect on people who took it early, the study had limitations that you will acknowledge.”
“Of course,” Navarro said in response.
“Number one, it wasn’t randomized. It was not double blind. The people who took hydroxychloroquine were assigned and chosen by the researchers,” Berman said. “Also, they were twice as likely to receive steroids, which we know have been proven in clinical trials to help.”
“That was controlled in the study,” Navarro interjected.
“There are limitations there,” Berman stressed.
“We had a really good dialogue about it,” Navarro said. “You and I aren’t going to settle this.”
He then encouraged Berman to have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn on the program.
“You’re making it sound like there are two sides to this right now,” Berman told Navarro.
“There are two sides to this,” Navarro said. “There are two gigantic sides to this.”
Berman then pointed to comments from Fauci on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.
“I go along with the FDA. The overwhelming, prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease,” Fauci said.
CNN has its own history of questionable claims about hydroxychloroquine. Last week, Dr. Risch rejected a CNN anchor’s “ludicrous” claim that the drug is too dangerous to even talk about as a potential COVID-19 treatment.
Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.
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