Trump tapped Peter Navarro — a discredited economist with no experience managing supply chains — to play a major role in coordinating his inadequate use of the Defense Production Act. Under Trump’s directive, Navarro has organized a number of shady and downright incompetent deals in the middle of a crisis made worse by the lack of supplies.
Peter Navarro has been involved in several questionable deals so far in his role coordinating Trump’s limited use of the Defense Production Act.
NBC News: “A number of the actions the Trump administration has pointed to as its coronavirus successes are deals Navarro played a role in, such as acquiring ventilators, masks or swabs. Some of those contracts have come under scrutiny, however, whether it be for potentially overpaying for supplies or doing deals with companies that have connections to the administration.”
Navarro’s office led efforts to award a $765 million loan for pharmaceutical manufacturing to Kodak, which does not make pharmaceuticals.
Bloomberg: “Some financial analysts and economic development experts greeted the proposal with skepticism. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after getting lapped by rivals in digital photography and failing to make good on an earlier multibillion-dollar acquisition of a pharmaceutical company.”
SVB Leerink: “We are puzzled by the Trump Administration’s decision. In particular, we find it puzzling why generic pharmaceutical companies who have the capabilities and know-how for this have not yet been awarded such contracts.”
The Kodak deal resulted in a $50 million payday for its CEO, and it’s currently under investigation by the SEC.
New York Times: “At the beginning of this week, the Eastman Kodak Company handed its chief executive 1.75 million stock options. … The day after the stock options were granted, the White House announced that the company would receive a $765 million federal loan to produce ingredients to make pharmaceuticals in the United States. … Within 48 hours of the options grants, their value had ballooned, at least on paper, to about $50 million.”
Wall Street Journal: “The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the circumstances around Eastman Kodak Co.’s announcement of a $765 million government loan to make drugs at its U.S. factories, according to people familiar with the matter.”
Navarro and Jared Kushner’s former roommate made a deal to pay five times more for ventilators than the Obama administration had paid.
NBC News: “White House trade adviser Peter Navarro … negotiated the new contract at almost five times the price the Obama administration paid. The devices Navarro purchased were ‘functionally identical’ to the previous ones.”
NBC News: “The deal was formalized by Adam Boehler, CEO of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, who is a former college roommate of Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law. Christopher Abbott, an aide to Navarro who graduated from college just last year, oversaw a majority of the communications between Philips and the White House.”
USA Today: “According to the report’s review of documents, ‘the Administration accepted Philips’ first offer without even trying to negotiate a lower price.’ White House trade adviser Peter Navarro … offered to prepay half of the total cost, or more than $323 million, to Philips before a single ventilator was even delivered. Department of Health and Human Services staff later reduced the amount prepaid to 10% of the total cost of the contract.”
Navarro stockpiled more than 60 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, which the FDA has warned against using to treat coronavirus, and is trying to manufacture even more while Trump continues to push the unproven treatment.
Bloomberg: “U.S. Sits on Millions of Pills That Treat Lupus, Not Covid”
Bloomberg: “Federal trade adviser Peter Navarro criticized the results of large clinical trials debunking hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness for Covid-19 … He said he would continue to stockpile millions of doses of the drug that’s been aggressively promoted by President Donald Trump.”
Bloomberg: “One of the drugs Kodak would manufacture materials for is hydroxychloroquine, the controversial antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump in the treatment of the coronavirus.”
In May, Navarro granted a $350 million contract to a new company with no track record in drug manufacturing.
Politico: “The Trump administration’s effort to rapidly launch a U.S. manufacturer for drugs to treat coronavirus patients hinges on a new company whose chief executive is best known for a failed anti-allergy injector and for raising the prices of a powerful opioid antidote. … The new company has no track record in drug manufacturing, and it’s not clear when its assembly lines will begin churning out products.”
Wall Street Journal: “In late March, the company hired two lobbying firms with experience representing pharmaceutical and biomedical firms, according to lobbying records, paying them $30,000 in the first quarter. The company’s pitch to the administration, a person familiar with the matter said, focused on an America-centric message that appealed to officials like Mr. Navarro.”