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Interview with White House Adviser Peter Navarro. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired July 29, 2020 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good everyone welcome to "Your New Day" it is Wednesday, July 29, 8 o'clock in the east and begin with the U.S. having its deadliest day of the summer in the pandemic so far. More than 1,200 Americans killed by coronavirus. Today the U.S. will surpass the milestone of 150,000 dead. At this hour fatalities are rising in 29 states.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So what is President Trump's plan to tackle this crisis? Well it is to listen to a doctor who talks demonic seed. President Trump put that out to his 84 million social media followers and everyone watching TV. The president actually promoted this doctor who says you don't have to wear a mask. She says there is a cure for coronavirus, that's not true. And she said that medicine is being made by using alien DNA. And also that women are being seduced by demons in their dreams.
BERMAN: All right joining me is Peter Navarro, he's the Director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing policy. Peter, always a pleasure to have you one. We're going to go by House rules this morning not Senate rules, which means --
PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: I come in peace today, John, but -
BERMAN: -- which means no filibuster.
NAVARRO: -- just back from Kodak. OK, go ahead.
BERMAN: That's exactly right. That's where I want to start.
BERMAN: I want to start with this announcement that you were part of yesterday.
BERMAN: A $700 million loan to Kodak to begin producing pharmaceutical materials, API - active pharmaceutical ingredients - which are the building blocks to so many of the treatments in this country. Why is it important to move that production to the United States?
NAVARRO: Well first of all we're grossly over dependent not just for active pharmaceutical ingredients but for the key starting materials that go into making the API, and this thing we're doing with Kodak literally and no hyperbole here is the single biggest deal in American pharmaceutical history because it's going to transform this once iconic company into a powerhouse that will, once it gets fully ramped up over time, will provide 25 percent, john, 25 percent of the API we need for our generic medicines. And the important statistic there is 90 percent of what we consume for our medicines are generic.
So they're not only going to do the API but the key starting materials, and it was a pleasure walking around the facility. It was - it was bitter sweet in a way because as we walked through the grounds, it's a huge - 1,200 acres. I saw a lot of weeds growing where big buildings -
BERMAN: Peter -
NAVARRO: -- had been. They used to have 66,000 people.
BERMAN: -- when will they being producing -
BERMAN: -- materials that can be used to fight the pandemic we're in right now?
NAVARRO: So they're already producing some of these chemicals. It's small scale. What we're going to do in a couple weeks is announce some contracts that they will have for the - what we call the finish dosage form, the tablets, capsules, and injectables. And once we - once we get those contracts done, we'll see what exactly they can produce when, but it's going to be in real time. And another -
BERMAN: Why -
NAVARRO: -- deal we did a month and -
BERMAN: Can I -
NAVARRO: -- a half ago is already producing -
BERMAN: Let me -
NAVARRO: -- pharmaceuticals.
BERMAN: Why not do something like this. A big deal like this to produce reagent, which so many people tell us is missing right now. They're short of reagent and testing.
BERMAN: It's one of the things that's leading to the delay in testing, so why not do this today -
NAVARRO: Yes, so -
BERMAN: -- to get more of that produced?
NAVARRO: So maybe we'll have an announcement soon about that, but what I do, John, is I got to - right across the way I've got this big board with 30 or more companies at any given time, and what we're looking for is just that. You know, we're looking for testing swabs. We're looking for somebody who's going to do lateral flow assay for antibodies. We're looking for key starting materials.
So it's a process where I'm working very closely with people like Paul Mango at HHS, Bob Kadlec, Admiral John Polowczyk who's at the trip (ph), and this guy Adam Boehler, he's just a beauty to work with. He's the guy that the president used the Defense Production Act. He's the CEO of the Development Finance Corporation, and he empowered Adam shop (ph) basically to be the band -
NAVARRO: -- for on shoring production. And we were able - once my team located the Kodak footprint, we were able to put that deal together in two months with really diligent vetting.
NAVARRO: So we're doing this all the time. I mean, it's -
BERMAN: And it is interesting. And it is interesting, and -
NAVARRO: Yes. I mean, we're - yes -
BERMAN: -- we'll follow it and we're going to follow it very closely as they - as they amp up and begin production there. Peter, let me ask you -
BERMAN: -- what's your opinion of Dr. Stella Immanuel?
NAVARRO: I have no opinion. I saw the brief. I had no knowledge of her. Here's what I can tell you, John.
BERMAN: OK, hang on. Hang on. Hang on.
BERMAN: And I assume you have no knowledge of her.
NAVARRO: I have no knowledge of her.
BERMAN: Just so people know - just so people know -
BERMAN: -- who does have knowledge of her -
BERMAN: -- the President of the United States. The President of the United States does, and he -
BERMAN: -- promoted her views at the White House briefing yesterday. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought she was very impressive in the sense that from where she came - I don't know which country she comes from, but she said that she's had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients; and I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE). Last week you said - last week - real quick - last week.
TRUMP: OK. Thank you very much everybody. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So the President is promoting Dr. Stella Immanuel and he tweeted out some of things she said yesterday. She is also said, Peter - just so you know if you don't know about her.
BERMAN: Hang on - she says Alien DNA.
NAVARRO: I've heard this in your open - (INAUDIBLE).
BERMAN: She says that alien DNA is used in medical treatment. Gynecological issues caused by sex with witches and demons in dreams.
NAVARRO: Yes, I know you're having - I know you're having fun with this.
BERMAN: I'm not - oh, God - I'm not having fun with this.
NAVARRO: No, no. But -
BERMAN: This is deadly serious. My question is - my question is. My question is why lean on Stella Immanuel to make a medical point?
NAVARRO: So, my - look, my mission here John is to help the President save lives and create jobs, and this issue of hydroxychloroquine - what the President was talking about. I thought he did it in a very sophisticated way yesterday because he pointed out that it's only efficacious in early treatment; and what I would suggest is - don't believe me. Don't believe Dr. Fauci. We have different points of view. Bring on somebody like William O'Neil - the doctor - (INAUDIBLE).
BERMAN: I've spoken to - I've spoken to William O'Neil and we'll get to hydroxychloroquine in a question.
NAVARRO: We'll embrace it and (INAUDIBLE).
NAVARRO: But it's not fair to me, John.
BERMAN: Peter? Peter?
BERMAN: He did quote Dr. O'Neil. He quote Dr. Rich at Yale.
BERMAN: He talked about Stella Immanuel.
BERMAN: He talked about this doctor who promotes demon seed, so I'm asking you why - (INAUDIBLE).
NAVARRO: John? Do me a favor, John? It's like I have absolutely nothing to say about that. I know nothing about her, and if you want to use me as a prop to kind of play her clip.
BERMAN: I don't.
NAVARRO: All right because I've got good stuff to talk about for you.
BERMAN: Look and we talked (INAUDIBLE). But Peter.
NAVARRO: If I may - can I say one more thing?
BERMAN: But Peter, you talked about hydroxychloroquine (INAUDIBLE).
NAVARRO: One more thing. One more thing. I stand by it. I'm sitting on millions of doses of it, and you know what how many Americans died yesterday, John?
BERMAN: 1200, Peter.
NAVARRO: Yes, and you know what if the Ford study's right, half of those people would still be alive.
BERMAN: The Ford Study which we have reported on.
BERMAN: The Ford Study - we reported on on this broadcast, and just so people know.
BERMAN: While the study did find that it had some effect on people who took it early. The study had limitations that you will acknowledge.
NAVARRO: Of course.
BERMAN: Number one, it wasn't randomized. It was not double blind. The people who took hydroxychloroquine were assigned and chosen by the researchers.
BERMAN: Also, they were twice as likely to receive steroids, which we know have been proven in clinical trials to help, so there are (INAUDIBLE).
NAVARRO: That was controlled in the study, John.
NAVARRO: We had a really good dialogue about it.
NAVARRO: You and I aren't going to settle this. I mean let's see what it is. Here's the thing.
BERMAN: Well, but you're making it sound - you're making it sound.
NAVARRO: Have Steven Hoge on.
BERMAN: You're making it sound like - you're making it sound like there are two sides to this.
NAVARRO: There are two sides of this.
BERMAN: Listen to Dr. Fauci.
NAVARRO: There's two gigantic sides to this, OK.
BERMAN: Listen to Dr. Fauci. Listen to Dr. Fauci yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: I go along with the FDA. The overwhelming, prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NAVARRO: Let me ask you a question, John.
BERMAN: The overwhelming, prevailing clinical trials.
NAVARRO: Let me ask you - let me ask you two questions, John.
NAVARRO: First of all, back in January when I said there was probably going to be a pandemic and Dr. Fauci said there wasn't. Who was right?
BERMAN: Dr. Fauci said there's probably not going to be a pandemic.
NAVARRO: Yes, he said it back - he was quoted twice on National TV saying yes, there's no problem here. There's no risk.
BERMAN: He said if we don't take the actions it has an immediate risk to spread.
NAVARRO: Not in January. Yes, not in January.
BERMAN: Peter, the point -
NAVARRO: But here's the other question - hang on, let me ask you this question. In February when I said that we could maybe get a vaccine by the end of the year and Dr. Fauci was on ABC News saying it would take a year or year and a half to develop it; and another year and a half to manufacture. Who looks like they're going to be right on that?
BERMAN: So, Peter - it sounds like you're saying -
BERMAN: Do you think you're more right on the science than Dr. Anthony Fauci, Peter?
NAVARRO: Globally, no. But certainly, I was - you said this on the show that it was ironic that the doctor of economics actually had the pandemic right and the doctor of medicine didn't.
BERMAN: I never said that. Oh, I never said that.
NAVARRO: Oh, pull the clip up.
BERMAN: I never said that.
BERMAN: You know I never said that. Look, Peter. Look, Peter, it's nonsense. My question to you - again -
NAVARRO: Let's dial this down here.
BERMAN: Dr. Anthony Fauci - I appreciate it.
NAVARRO: The issue is life and death, John. Let's get serious for a minute.
BERMAN: I - ex - which is why by the way.
NAVARRO: (INAUDIBLE). No, hang on.
BERMAN: We should listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci and not a doctor - and not a doctor
NAVARRO: Well we should listen to Dr. O'Neil
BERMAN: Stella Immanuel? Stella Immanuel? Stella Immanuel? Yes or no?
BERMAN: Yes or no?
BERMAN: Yes or no?
BERMAN: Yes or no?
NAVARRO: John -
BERMAN: Yes or no?
NAVARRO: John -
BERMAN: Yes or no?
NAVARRO: -- I have no knowledge of any of this. Let me say this -
BERMAN: I just read to you what she said. Yes or no?
NAVARRO: I'm not going to be your prop in the circus, OK? Here's what's really serious about this. Americans are dying. Now, if you were to have Commissioner Steve on - and I've had these conversations offline with him - he has acknowledged fully to me that the question of this drug under doctor supervision killing people has been settled. It's a drug that will not hurt you, OK? Have him on. Have him talk about it. The only question is whether there's any upside, and I would maintain having read over 60 studies on this that the evidence for early treatment use is overwhelming. And so, the question is -
NAVARRO: -- if I'm wrong, nobody gets hurt. If I'm right and use it, thousands of people - thousands of American lives -
BERMAN: So the study is - the study -
NAVARRO: -- so why are you guys so - why are you guys so hardcore about wanting to knock this down?
BERMAN: All I want to do is make sure people -
NAVARRO: It can't hurt. Pregnant women take it -
BERMAN: All - that's not - but that's not -
NAVARRO: -- when they go into malaria zones.
BERMAN: Peter, Peter, hang on. Hang on. Hang on. Hang on.
NAVARRO: The CDC says it's fine.
BERMAN: That's not -
BERMAN: -- that's not what the science and the research has said. This is -
NAVARRO: But you're wrong on that. But you're -
BERMAN: Some of these studies - some of these studies -
NAVARRO: -- just wrong on that.
BERMAN: I'm not, Peter. Some of these studies have found that it can have adverse effects. Putting stuff in your body -
NAVARRO: You're just - you're just wrong.
BERMAN: -- unless it's proven to help, Peter, is not a great thing. This is not watermelon, OK? This is serious -
NAVARRO: John, you and I - look, you're a journalist and I'm -
BERMAN: -- pharmaceutical. All I want - all I want -
NAVARRO: -- an economist. You and I shouldn't be having this conversation really.
BERMAN: But you have chosen to, and you have chosen -
NAVARRO: But I - but I wish --
BERMAN: No, no, no. You and I should not be having -
NAVARRO: Please, John.
BERMAN: You and I - OK, what you just said, Peter, as an economist you should not be having this conversation. You have chosen -
NAVARRO: Wish you had Dr. Stella (ph), but -
BERMAN: You just said (INAUDIBLE) -
NAVARRO: -- CNN and others have made -
BERMAN: You just said I was wrong (ph).
NAVARRO: -- a circus out of it.
BERMAN: You just - no!
NAVARRO: John, at the end of the day - John, at the end of the day if I'm right, thousands of Americans are dying because the media -
NAVARRO: -- and the FDA have made hydroxychloroquine something that appears to be dangerous when it's a 65-year-old drug that can't hurt you under doctor supervision. So I mean, look, John - John, have these other people on. Have Steve Hahn on. Just ask them the question -
BERMAN: I got a - I got a couple more questions for you.
NAVARRO: -- can it hurt you. Sure.
BERMAN: I got a couple - I got a couple more questions.
NAVARRO: Can I talk about vaccine development and -
BERMAN: I want to get two more things - two more things here, Peter.
NAVARRO: Yes. Yes.
BERMAN: Number one, there was that op-ed.
NAVARRO: More circus stuff?
BERMAN: This is not - look, it's not circus stuff.
NAVARRO: Come on. Come on.
BERMAN: Unless you're the ringmaster -
NAVARRO: It's circus - this is a circus today.
BERMAN: Unless you're the ringmaster or the tightrope walker -
NAVARRO: You gave me -
BERMAN: -- it's not circus stuff.
NAVARRO: You gave me the opportunity to talk about Kodak to the American people. We did the greatest thing. Let me say something about vaccines and then we'll go back to the circus.
BERMAN: Hang on, Peter. Hang on. I want to do two things and then I'll give you vaccines. Number one, what has the president said to you personally about your criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci?
NAVARRO: That's between me and the president. Next question.
BERMAN: Has he told you to not talk about -
NAVARRO: Next question.
BERMAN: -- Dr. Anthony Fauci?
NAVARRO: That's between me and the president.
BERMAN: Is the China trade deal still happening?
NAVARRO: It's still happening. In fact they bought the highest amount of corn ever in history from us last couple of weeks, but let me - let me tell - look. I want to talk directly to your viewers here and to you because there's things going on this administration is doing to save American lives, and this vaccine development is a very serious matter. I was down with the president in ResearchTriangle Park in North Carolina on Monday, and the way that we're going to get to a vaccine in half or a third of the usual time is going from, first of all, the traditional model is sequencing. You find the vaccine and you test it through three phases for safety and efficacy, and only after that do you think about mass producing it.
What we're doing with this president's genius is turning that paradigm on its head. We're simultaneously preparing for mass manufacture as we've got five companies in a horse race to develop a vaccine so we will be ready in December if Moderna or Pfizer -
NAVARRO: -- or Novavax has a vaccine to get 300 to 500 million doses into the mainstream for the American people. So that's the kind of stuff I'm doing. That's the kind of stuff I love to talk about.
BERMAN: We do.
NAVARRO: I love coming on talking with you, John, but the more you can leverage kind of what I know and what I'm doing to share with the American people, I'd appreciate that because -
BERMAN: Look, Peter -
NAVARRO: -- I've got a lot to share. I do every day -
BERMAN: Peter, I know you do. I know you do, but you make it sound like -
NAVARRO: -- I'm doing so much for this president.
BERMAN: You make it sound like you don't frequently weigh in on hydroxychloroquine, so I was asking you - I was asking you about that -
NAVARRO: No, I'm straight up on that, but we've had -
BERMAN: -- because Stella Immanuel -
NAVARRO: -- this conversation before. If - that's -
BERMAN: But it's in the news. It's in the news today.
NAVARRO: That's circus stuff.
BERMAN: It's in -
NAVARRO: And the circus -
BERMAN: But Peter, the circus - the President of the United States is the one who praised her -
NAVARRO: John - John, look. I just -
BERMAN: -- so is he - are you - is he responsible for creating the circus?
NAVARRO: Look, you keep beating this to death, OK? The serious underlying issue, John.
This is a serious underlying issue is, can hydroxychloroquine save lives? And this discussion we're having today really doesn't enlighten that. It politicizes it.
And the problem is that the media, as soon as Donald Trump said, this stuff is good, politicized it. I'm just -- I'm pleading with you, and the American people, to look at this drug again because I literally have tens of millions of tablets sitting in the strategic national stockpile that if we were allowed under the doctors' advice to get this stuff to people at the first sign of their symptoms, I guarantee you, it would cut the amount of time of the symptoms, reduce the duration of the symptoms and save lives.
BERMAN: Peter --
NAVARRO: And it's --
BERMAN: You keep saying this. You keep saying this.
NAVARRO: I look at the studies. I look at the studies.
BERMAN: You looked a study, and we talked about the limitation.
NAVARRO: You can't point to the single study that I can read that shows to the contrary in terms of early treatment. You just can't.
BERMAN: Well, that's not true. That's not true. The NIH study -- the NIH study -- the NIH study people got the treatment.
NAVARRO: Late treatment study, late treatment studies.
BERMAN: No, no, some of the patients got the treatment early. Some of the patients got the treatment early and, Peter, the New England Journal study that just came out involved people --
NAVARRO: That was a pure late treatment study.
BERMAN: No, that had people within 15 days.
NAVARRO: The New England Journal of Medicine study came out -- no, no, the median time for them to get the medicine --
BERMAN: Peter --
NAVARRO: -- the first time they got it was seven days. That's about five days too late.
BERMAN: We don't need to go down this road anymore. Dr. Anthony Fauci --
NAVARRO: Have Dr. O'Neill to come on --
BERMAN: I have spoken to Dr. O'Neill at length. I have spoken to Dr. O'Neill at length.
NAVARRO: Has he been on the show?
BERMAN: Dr. Zervos, who wrote the report in the study, says this doesn't disprove the other studies which have talked about the limitations.
NAVARRO: Has Dr. O'Neill been on your show?
BERMAN: No, Peter.
NAVARRO: Has Stanley Risch (ph) been your show? They're better spokesman for it, John.
BERMAN: Why doesn't the president talk about them instead of talking about Stella Immanuel?
NAVARRO: I think he mentioned -- I think he mentioned them. I don't know. But --
BERMAN: He did talk about Stella Immanuel.
NAVARRO: As soon as you go there, this is a circus again. I'm trying to have a serious discussion.
BERMAN: But, Peter, Peter -- (CROSSTALK)
NAVARRO: People of CNN and you want to go to a circus. I don't want to go there.
BERMAN: Will you say to the president -- the president wants circus, Peter. The president wants circus. The president wants circus. The president wants circus.
Why not -- why not raise to him? Why not raise to him?
NAVARRO: This week, we demonstrated the use of the Defense Production Act can help us get a vaccine to the American people in half or a third of the time.
We did a beautiful job on Tuesday with the greatest deal for American pharmaceuticals in history, and on Thursday, we're going to have a great event on convalescent plasma which is another therapeutic --
NAVARRO: -- which has potential use.
What we're trying to do, John, is save American lives and save this American economy and again, I love coming on. I -- this is like -- kind of like combat here in some ways.
BERMAN: No, no.
NAVARRO: But to the extend you can allow me also to provide useful information to the American people on how we're testing or on bringing our drugs on shore for production or a vaccine development, I -- I assure you, John, I got so much information I can share with you.
BERMAN: And we talked -- and we talked about what is being done. We talked about the manufacturing deal. I just want to make sure --
NAVARRO: Just don't drag me into the circus.
BERMAN: I just -- Peter --
BERMAN: Peter, my problem -- your problem isn't with me. Your problem isn't with me. You're problem is with the guy sitting behind you right now in that house.
NAVARRO: I love that guy. He's the funniest guy, smartest guy I know, and he's doing a great job. And -- we are --
NAVARRO: Let me ask you --
BERMAN: No, no. Peter, who tweeted -- who tweeted out Dr. Stella Immanuel? Was it me? Was it me or was it the president? Answer that. Was it me or the president? Was it me or the president?
NAVARRO: This is circus.
BERMAN: Was it me or was it the president who praised her at the White House yesterday?
NAVARRO: Three-ring circus with you. What I can simply do, John, is just talk about what this president is doing to try to save American lives.
And let me ask you one last question. The Chinese communist party infected this nation with a deadly virus.
NAVARRO: How come it is that we as Americans now are fighting amongst each other? This is what troubles me so much.
BERMAN: Again, again, I would ask you, you may want to pose that question to me. I invite you to pose it to the guy sitting behind you, and I will say that this virus that is infecting the United States right now is --
NAVARRO: The China virus. The CCP virus.
BERMAN: We let you say that once, Peter, please don't say it again on this show. I know why you're saying it.
NAVARRO: The China virus.
BERMAN: All right, Peter Navarro, thank you for being with us. I know what you're trying to do there. There are Asian-Americans who have told us they have been the source of --
NAVARRO: The CCP virus, my friend. We love -- we love the Chinese people, John, they're hard working. They're under the rule (ph) of an authoritarian government.
BERMAN: Peter Navarro, Peter Navarro, we appreciate you being with us --
NAVARRO: Great to talk with you, John. BERMAN: Thank you very much. Congratulations. Congratulations on the
NAVARRO: Thank you. That was a great -- great win for America.
Peter Navarro, thanks very much.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Why am I sweating?
Joining us now, CNN White House correspondent John Harwood who is I'm sure is as well.
So Peter Navarro said a lot of things there under John's excellent questioning. Peter said that President Trump is the smartest, funniest guy Peter Navarro knows and he doesn't like being part of any circus. What else did you hear?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, Peter Navarro is the circus, another manifestation of this circus of an administration.
Let's just slow down for a second. Yesterday, the president came into the briefing room and complained that people like Anthony Fauci, they don't like him. Peter Navarro just demonstrated why that is as the president did yesterday.
The United States is manifestly failing in the effort to control coronavirus, 4 million cases, 150,000 people dead. And what the president did with his tweets was advanced the views of a crackpot. Not someone who knows what she's talking about. Now, Peter Navarro was just amplifying those views again.
Now if you talk to economists who serve presidents of both parties they will tell you that Peter Navarro himself is a crackpot in his own field of economics. He has zero expertise in public health. There's no valid argument between him and Anthony Fauci about the merits of hydroxychloroquine.
Anthony Fauci is the leading expert in the United States government. And so when you have the president performing in this way and aides performing in this way, it shows you why people don't believe the administration and why the administration is in such a deep hole politically while so many Americans -- a thousand a day are dying.
BERMAN: Yeah. Look, I don't know how much we learned there, I have to be completely honest. You heard Peter Navarro, Peter Navarro believes in hydroxy --
HARWOOD: Nothing. We didn't learn anything.
BERMAN: So -- exactly. Look, Navarro believes in hydroxychloroquine. The science right now, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the overwhelming evidence from the clinical trials are that it does not have a benefit.
People need to know that that is what the country's leading scientists are saying on that full stop, period. Now, Peter Navarro also --
HARWOOD: Peter Navarro is not a public health expert.
HARWOOD: He doesn't know anything about what he's talking about. He can read. I can read too. I can read studies.
But at the end of the day, what we have as a country to rely upon is the expertise of people who know this field. He is not one of those people, and yet he's the person that the administration is putting out there to try to advance this view. Again, this is why the administration is failing and why the American people see the administration failing.
CAMEROTA: Speaking of reading, President -- I don't know if President Trump reads his daily brief. This came up in a new "Axios" interview, we just have a clip of it, and in which the reporter Jonathan Swan asked President Trump whether or not he confronted Vladimir Putin about the bounties on American soldiers' heads.
Here's that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We discussed numerous things. We did not discuss that, no.
JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS: And you never discussed it with him?
TRUMP: I have not discussed it with him.
It never reached my desk, you know what, because they didn't think -- intelligence, they didn't think it was real. They didn't think it was worthy of -- if it reached my desk, I would have done something about it. It never reached my desk because --
SWAN: Do you read your written brief?
TRUMP: I do, I read a lot. You know, I read a lot. They like to say I don't read, I read a lot.
SWAN: You read your daily intelligence brief?
TRUMP: I comprehend extraordinarily well.
SWAN: We surely heard that, right? I mean, it's well known in the intelligence community that they're arming the Taliban -- Russia.
TRUMP: I don't know -- when you say arming, is the Taliban saying or they've given them -- SWAN: Russia is supplying weapons and money to the Taliban.
TRUMP: I have heard that, but it's never -- again, it's never reached my desk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Yes, it did. That's a revealing exchange. A very revealing exchange.
Once again he's disinclined to believe the evidence about the Taliban and Russia and he says, it didn't reach my desk. Yes, it did.
HARWOOD: A couple of things about that, Alisyn.
First of all, Mary Trump said in her book recently, that is the president's niece, that the president is a child trapped in an adult's body. That -- the level of reasoning and explanation displayed by the president is consistent with that, so was yesterday -- his complaint that nobody likes me.
Second of all, step back for a minute. We know that before Donald Trump was a political candidate, Russia was his financial -- Russia and Russians were his financial benefactors. We know from Robert Mueller that Russia helped the president's campaign. We know that the president then welcomed that help.
We know that since Donald Trump became president, he has consistently acted in ways that advanced the strategic objective of Russia to weaken NATO and the Western alliance.
Here we saw the president doing the same thing. He was more interested in that interview in criticizing General Nicholson who had been a military commander with responsibility for Afghanistan who had pointed out Russian help for the Taliban. He was more interested in criticizing him than in criticizing the Russians.
So what you have is a president who was displaying actual indifference to the lives of the soldiers under his command. Any normally functioning president would confront the Russian leader over these reports, which they did reach his desk in the presidential daily brief.
So, you put that together, that indifference to the lives of the American soldiers with his conduct in directing the coronavirus, where he is displaying indifference to the lives of American citizens in this pandemic, it's profoundly disturbing.
CAMEROTA: John Harwood, thank you very much for all of your reporting.
BERMAN: All right. Contentious hearings yesterday with the attorney general of the United States over his response to the racial justice protests. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): When protesters with guns and swastikas --
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm aware of protesters and federal government --
JAYAPAL: Excuse me, Mr. Barr. This is my time and I control it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That lawmaker joins us next.