Former White House adviser pursued his own medical supply contracts, report finds

Peter Navarro, the White House's trade adviser under former President Donald Trump, used his own strategy for obtaining medical supply contracts early on in the COVID-19 pandemic after the federal government didn't implement a national strategy, according to documents released March 31 by House Democrats, The Hill reported. 

In a memo from March 1, 2020, Mr. Navarro warned the former president that the U.S. needed to stay ahead of the coronavirus's curve, according to The Hill. But the president said the federal government "is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we're not a shipping clerk." 

Mr. Navarro and other White House officials then pursued their own supply contracts and pushed federal agencies to issue noncompetitive contracts, The Hill reported. 

Mr. Navarro issued a $765 million loan to Eastman Kodak to make ingredients for generic drugs, a $354 million contract for pharmaceutical ingredients to a new drugmaker named Phlow and a $96 million contract to the AirBoss Defense Group for powered respirators and filters, according to The Hill

The U.S. "pursued a haphazard and ineffective approach to procurement in which senior White House officials steered contracts to particular companies without adequate diligence or competition," Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, The Hill reported. 

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