Trump’s 2020 Campaign Wasn’t Tough Enough on Communist China, Former Top Aid Navarro Says

Former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign wasn’t tough enough on the Chinese regime, which was the “most consequential and unforgivable mistake,” according to former White House aide Peter Navarro.

“The failure to get as tough on Communist China as we could and should have, I think, was the single biggest of the strategic failures,“ Navarro said in a recent interview on the “China in Focus” program on NTD News.

“That made that election close enough to steal by the Democrats, and I spend a great deal of the book talking about what those failures on China policy were and who basically was responsible for derailing President Trump’s tough on China agenda,” said Navarro referring to his new book, “Taking Back Trump’s America: Why We Lost the White House and How We’ll Win.”

Among the key strategic mistakes, Navarro said, was the failure to hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To this day, I think that it’s important that we hold Communist China accountable, but we let an important opportunity slip by there, because the primary attack on President Trump, leading into the election in 2020, was to blame him for the pandemic,” he said. “Wrongly in my judgment, if we had been able to shift that blame with this executive order to the Communist Chinese and Fauci, I think it would have changed everything.”

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump listens to Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speak at a briefing at the White House, in Washington, on March 21, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Navarro attributed the failure in part to “an elaborate cover-up” by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was one of Trump’s chief advisers on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we can get more about what Fauci knew, when he knew it, what he did, I think that’ll be a lever to hold the Chinese accountable,” he said.

In his book, Navarro wrote that Fauci “likely already knew at least six stunning facts that would make Fauci himself complicit in the looming pandemic” in January 2020.

Fauci may have been aware that the coronavirus, for instance, is “almost certainly” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The WIV “had received substantial funding from Fauci and his bureaucracy within the National Institutes of Health,” Navarro said.

The infectious disease chief has dismissed the possibility that the virus was leaked from a Chinese lab in May 2020, saying evidence is “very, very strongly leaning toward this [virus] could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.” But in July, Fauci said that he keeps an “open mind” over the lab leak theory, though “it looks very much like” that the virus has originated in nature.

Despite two years since the emergence of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic is still unclear. International efforts to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus have produced little, largely due to the Chinese regime’s persistent refusal to allow independent investigators to access crucial health data from the early stages of the pandemic and records from the WIV.

But the U.S. State Department and experts have flagged circumstantial evidence pointing to a lab leak from the WIV as a possible source of the pandemic, including evidence of WIV’s gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses, reports that staff members became sick with symptoms consistent with both seasonal flu and COVID-19 in the fall of 2019, before the Chinese regime acknowledged the outbreak, and that a WIV public database of 22,000 samples and viral sequences was taken offline in September 2019 before the onset of the outbreak.

Epoch Times Photo
The P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, on April 17, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

Documents disclosed in 2021 showed the U.S. NIH funded research at the facility in China that created a more potent form of a bat coronavirus, fueling criticism that Fauci misled Congress. Fauci, the head of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told a congressional panel in 2021 that the agency did not provide money to researchers in Wuhan.

“If Fauci had simply come clean, President Trump would have demanded that President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party immediately reveal the truth about the virus and, most importantly, release the original genome of the virus that had been genetically engineered,” Navarro said in his new book.

“[T]he dethroning of Fauci alone might well have been enough to win the 2020 election,” he added.

The Epoch Times has sought comment from Fauci’s office.

Decoupling From China

If Trump were back to the Oval Office again, Navarro suggested a presidential commission would be launched to hold the CCP accountable for the pandemic.

Besides the decision, “decoupling the two economies” would be a priority for Trump, he told NTD.

“When we go into Walmart and buy [any product] made in China, we’re helping them build their missiles to destroy Taiwan, or sinking a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Taiwan Straits,” he said. “So we certainly have to do that.”

A truck passes by China Shipping containers at the Port of Los Angeles, in Long Beach, Calif. on Sept. 1, 2019. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

“That would help bring our manufacturing and supply chains home,” Navarro added.

Manufacturing in America “is the key over time to increasing the real inflation adjusted wages of workers and giving workers stability in terms of long term employment and making the middle class prosperous,” according to the former Trump trade adviser.

Navarro noted the United States has paid a price for producing in China during the pandemic.

“When China locks down with its zero-COVID locked down policies, it’s strangling its own supply chains; they’re going to export their inflation here; they’re going to export their supply chain fragilities here,” he said. “It makes no sense for us any longer.”

Cathy He and Jack Phillips contributed to the report.

Dorothy Li


Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in Europe.

Tiffany Meier


Tiffany Meier is a New York-based reporter and host of NTD’s “China in Focus.”

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