The White House coronavirus task force had its biggest fight yet on Saturday, pitting economic adviser Peter Navarro against infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci. At issue: How enthusiastically should the White House tout the prospects of an antimalarial drug to fight COVID-19?
Behind the scenes: This drama erupted into an epic Situation Room showdown. Trump’s coronavirus task force gathered in the White House Situation Room on Saturday at about 1:30pm, according to four sources familiar with the conversation. Vice President Mike Pence sat at the head of the table.
- Numerous government officials were at the table, including Fauci, coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx, Jared Kushner, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and Commissioner of Food and Drugs Stephen Hahn.
- Behind them sat staff, including Peter Navarro, tapped by Trump to compel private companies to meet the government’s coronavirus needs under the Defense Production Act.
The fight that followed was the worst yet for the Coronavirus Task Force,
. . . . .Hahn began a discussion of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which Trump believes could be a “game-changer” against the coronavirus.
Pence was trying to moderate the heated discussion. [arising between Navarro and Fauci] “It was pretty clear that everyone was just trying to get Peter to sit down and stop being so confrontational,” said one of the sources.
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