Conspiracy Theory Trade

Trump’s Top Trade Adviser is Completely Batshit

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Is Trump's "biggest and greatest deal" with China "over" as his top trade adviser Ron Vara Peter Navarro says?

Navarro caused a bit of a stir last night and sent stock futures into a minor panic when he said the trade deal has been called off, but Trump and Navarro both walked back his comments and said the deal is intact.

Now, I think the deal is effectively dead or will be soon because global consumer demand is in the toilet, but I want to look at Navarro's original comments and explanation for why the deal is "over."

Navarro told Fox News the deal was called off because China intentionally hid the existence of the coronavirus and he spun that into a tale of pure fiction.

Earlier, Navarro told Fox News “it’s over” in an interview when asked about the trade agreement.

He said the “turning point” came when the United States learned about the spreading coronavirus only after a Chinese delegation had left Washington following the signing of the Phase 1 deal on Jan. 15.

It was at a time when they had already sent hundreds of thousands of people to this country to spread that virus, and it was just minutes after wheels up when that plane took off that we began to hear about this pandemic,” Navarro said.

I don't know where Ron Vara stops and Peter Navarro begins.

Navarro seems to believe that the truth is whatever happened during his most recent fever dream. The idea that China intentionally sent "hundreds of thousands of people" to the United States to infect us in January is absurd. Almost as absurd is the idea that they intentionally hid the existence of the virus until the minute their plane took off.

The only element of Navarro's story that may be true is him not learning about the virus until the middle of January, but he has only himself to blame for that. I'm nobody and I recall first reading about the virus in December. That is why it's called COVID-19 rather than COVID-20; because it was discovered in 2019.

Even if you believe as Navarro does that China tried to hide the virus, we know the White House received intelligence reports about it in Trump's daily briefing in early January. We also know the Pentagon's medical intelligence unit detected the virus in November of 2019.

Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military's National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), according to two officials familiar with the document’s contents.

The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images. It raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia -- forces that depend on the NCMI’s work.

Intelligence reports aside -- if the White House learned about the virus "minutes after wheels up," why did they do exactly nothing about it? Trump was still golfing in the middle of March while New York descended into chaos.

China responded to Navarro's claims this morning.

China on Tuesday responded to Navarro’s claims about the trade deal with disdain.

He consistently lies and has no honesty and trustworthiness,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a regular press briefing.

What else can I say? They're right.

Peter Navarro is a stone-cold, anti-Chinese racist. That's what animates his wild imagination.

  • muselet

    Peter Navarro is a serial fabulist. Nothing he says can be taken as fact unless two independent sources confirm the facts.

    Navarro’s distaste for China is also well-known. That he would make up a story of Chinese treachery in order to justify torpedoing a trade deal is to be expected; that the White House would have been uninformed about Covid-19 in mid-January rings true—they’re not the most attentive bunch—but again, I’ll wait for confirmation from two other sources.

    And yes, Zhao Lijian is right about Navarro, and more polite than I would have been.

    (As for that ABC report, Josh Marshall expressed some doubts about the supposed November NCMI report in April. China absolutely was embarrassed by the outbreak—it took a toll on the government’s self-image as omnicompetent—and downplayed news about it, but not for long. China informed WHO of the outbreak on 31 December 2019 (source), at which time there were only 44 confirmed cases; if NCMI had evidence a month earlier of an outbreak, it’s got some damn’ impressive capabilities to infer the existence of a serious disease from that few patients.)

    –alopecia