Speaking with anchor Ali Velshi, Navarro accused the Chinese Communist Party of unleashing COVID-19 on the world.
“It is the Chinese Communist Party that is making us stay locked in our homes and lose our jobs,” he began.
“They spawned the virus. They hid the virus. They sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals over here to seed and spread the virus before we knew.”
“They spawned the virus, probably came out of the biological lab,” Navarro reiterated, alleging that China “hid” the virus with the help of the World Health Organization.
Navarro also alleged that the Chinese government closed down its own transportation networks in order to curb the spread of the virus while directing individuals infected with COVID-19 to travel around the world.
“They deliberately allowed Chinese nationals to come to the United States, Italy, and everywhere in between, who were infected, while they were locking down their own transportation network,” he said.
Navarro is not the first person to allege that the coronavirus originated in a laboratory. As reported by The New Republic, various prominent figures on the American right have promoted similar theories.
The “outlandish” theory that COVID-19 was developed as part of China’s biological warfare program apparently sprung from an amateur YouTube video. The video was amplified and promoted by National Review‘s Jim Geraghty. Following Geraghty’s analysis, the theory reached mainstream conservative media.
Some Republicans in the United States Congress have embraced the theory. According to the publication, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton has repeatedly blamed China’s ruling party for the spread of the virus. President Donald Trump has not directly accused China of creating COVID-19, but he has suggested that the virus might have accidentally leaked out of a laboratory.
Navarro’s MSNBC appearance was immediately met with backlash. In a Twitter message, Norman Ornstein — a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor for The Atlantic — slammed the network for allowing the White House adviser to spread his theories.
I understand why cable networks feel the need to have administration spokespeople, but that MSNBC puts on Peter Navarro to spout racist nonsense, lies and half-truths is just foolish and wrong.
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) July 3, 2020
At his most recent campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump railed against the Chinese government, blaming it for the spread of COVID-19. During his fiery speech, the commander-in-chief referred to the virus as “Kung Flu.”
GOP Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have similarly blamed China for the pandemic, with Graham calling for sanctions on the country.