Trump Aide Peter Navarro Doled Out Hundreds of thousands in Pandemic Contracts, Inquiry Finds

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The Trump administration was so gradual to organize for the coronavirus pandemic {that a} prime aide to President Donald J. Trump took issues into his personal fingers.

That aide, Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s deputy assistant and commerce adviser, personally steered tons of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in contracts for pandemic provides to politically related or novice firms, a preliminary investigation by Home Democrats has discovered.

Mr. Navarro sounded an early alarm about provide shortages, in keeping with emails and different paperwork launched by a Home committee overseeing the federal coronavirus response. In a memo dated March 1, 2020, he complained that “motion has been gradual.”

After that, paperwork present, he prodded the Federal Emergency Administration Company to award a $96 million sole-source contract for respirators to AirBoss Protection Group, a protection trade provider, telling an organization govt “all the pieces you requested is OK,” despite the fact that no contract had been signed.

The company awarded the sole-source contract six days later. AirBoss was represented by a retired Military normal, Jack Keane, who had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Mr. Trump simply days earlier than the contract was issued

In an announcement, Mr. Navarro mentioned he needed to maneuver aggressively to fight the specter of the virus.

“In a conflict, it’s essential transfer with warp velocity,” he wrote. “My mission was to help the president in saving lives, which we undeniably did. Given the identical set of information, I’d do all the pieces precisely the identical. Full cease!”

However the Democrats, led by Consultant James C. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Home Democrat, questioned Mr. Navarro’s efforts.

They famous that officers in Mr. Navarro’s workplace had coordinated with executives on the Eastman Kodak Firm, finest identified for its pictures enterprise, which then entered right into a letter of intent in June 2020 to collaborate on the home manufacture of pharmaceutical brokers, despite the fact that the corporate had no expertise in that area.

Mr. Navarro additionally pushed for the Trump administration to award a $354 million contract to Phlow, a brand-new firm in Richmond, Va., to fabricate generic medicines and pharmaceutical components — an effort geared toward build up an American manufacturing base for merchandise that had been wanted to deal with Covid-19 however had been made abroad. The Democrats’ investigation discovered that Mr. Navarro had been launched to Phlow’s chief govt in November 2019.

“My head goes to blow up if this contract doesn’t get instantly accredited,” Mr. Navarro wrote to prime federal well being officers in March 2020. “This can be a travesty. I want PHLOW observed by Monday morning. That is being screwed up. Let’s transfer this now. We have to flip the change and so they can’t transfer till you do. FULL funding as we mentioned.”

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