A Saturday afternoon interview between Fox News weekend anchor Leland Vittert and White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro ended on a contentious note as Navarro accused Vittert of being “very overbearing” and consistently “interrupting” his attempts to answer questions.
The “America’s News Headquarters” conversation on U.S. trade policy toward China began with Vittert pressing Navarro on the “serious consequences” that will occur should China manipulate their currency.
WATCH (Part 1):
“There’s no threat, Leland,” said Navarro.
“What are the consequences?” asked the Fox News host.
“For China,” Navarro responded. “What’s happening with China now as we have methodically put tariffs on as China has basically refused to negotiate in good faith. We have seen China lower their currency. Since tariffs have started the Chinese yuan has gone down 12% offsetting much of the tariffs that we imposed, so China’s bearing the burden. The other thing China does is lower prices, so we have seen virtually no inflation.”
Vittert interrupted Navarro when the White House assistant tried to bring up a list of promises President Trump has made and kept.
“Here is the question, what would you — if China continues devaluing their currency which, as you point out, to offset the tariffs, what tools would the United States respond with?”
The Fox News anchor interrupted Navarro several times on the topic of currency manipulation as he tried to get his answers out.
“I don’t understand that, the hostility here,” said Navarro, seeming surprised. “It’s really simple, when China manipulates currency, they go in and intervene in the currency markets so they buy dollars … ”
After another bout of crosstalk during which Vittert insisted U.S. companies pay the balance, Navarro said, “You’re wrong, sir. You are absolutely wrong here. [another interruption] You can’t keep doing this. You’re being very overbearing and demonstrating a lack of understanding of the dynamics of this situation.”
WATCH (Part 2)
“What are you doing here?” Navarro said after more interruptions. “Are you going to give me a chance to respond?”
“Go ahead. Please,” said Vittert.
“So, China lowers the value of their currency and that translates to a lower price so it totally offsets any kind of tariff impact. They are also cutting their prices, so you’re also talking about a paper transaction, when in fact China bears the burden through the lower tariff. You put a tariff on at 10% and they lower their currency by 12%, right, are consumers hurt? Absolutely not. We have raised 35 billion worth of tariffs … they’ve borne the China burden.”
“You’ve got to back off here,” said a clearly irritated Navarro after another interruption about farmers who say they are hurt by the policy.
“I’ll try to roll off the set,” joked Vittert. “I ask the questions, you answer them. You’ve just said the farmers were made whole.”
“You know, this hostility is personally to me …” said Navarro after another series of crosstalk.
“Usually people ask questions and they get an answer,” said Vittert.
“All you keep doing is interrupting me,” said Navarro, getting angry. “That’s all you do here. You roll back the tape here – all you do is when I start to ask a question.”
“Clearly not an answer, just a filibuster,” Vittert said. “Gotta run …”
“‘Gotta run,’” Navarro mocked, “After you interrupted me probably 30 times. This is shameful sir.”