DCR Health & Finance: White House trade advisor is under scrutiny for coronavirus related actions. ☕☕🎙️

Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves the White House trade advisor and some investigations he is under.

Senior White House aide Peter Navarro groomed himself as a powerful government purchasing chief, operating far beyond his original role as an adviser on trade policy.

The administration had terminated one contract that Navarro had directly negotiated for 42,900 Philips ventilators. A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said the cancellation was “subject to internal HHS investigation and legal review.” The contract has been criticized by a House oversight subcommittee, which concluded that the government had overpaid for the ventilators by $500 million.

The cancellation came after another transaction Navarro championed and had involvement in, a government loan to fund Eastman Kodak’s transformation into a drugmaker, unraveled and became embroiled in a securities investigation. The watchdog panel says it is broadening its inquiry to examine all of Navarro’s deals.

On March 27, 2020 Trump tapped the Harvard educated economist to coordinate the administration’s emergency contracting for personal protective equipment, medical ventilators and syringes needed to fight the pandemic and Navarro claims that the administration has dramatically increased production of protective masks, swabs, test kits and medical ventilators, plugging gaps that crippled the initial response to the novel coronavirus. In a White House report this month, he credited the president with leading “the most rapid mobilization of America’s public health industrial base since World War II.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the circumstances surrounding Kodak’s disclosure of a $765 million federal loan Trump awarded to fund the launch of the company’s new pharmaceutical division, the company said in a securities filing.

Democrats on a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee, reviewed thousands of pages of emails and documents, concluded that Navarro was responsible for wasting more than $500 million by overpaying for ventilators manufactured by Philips. Navarro agreed to pay Philips almost five times as much per ventilator as the Obama administration had, accepting the manufacturer’s opening bid without bargaining, the panel said.

Department of Health and Human Services terminated the Philips contract and two others on Monday, saying the United States now has “enough ventilators to meet maximum national capacity in a crisis.”

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