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House opens probe into White House trade adviser Peter Navarro

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Aug. 31 (UPI) — The U.S. House on Monday opened an investigation into federal contracts negotiated by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, following the cancelation of a ventilator contract with Netherland-based Royal Philips.

Chairman of the House subcommittee on economic and consumer policy, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., told CNBC that the panel has opened a probe into Navarro as part of an ongoing investigation into contracts entered into by the Trump administration related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Under the management of Peter Navarro, senior adviser to President Trump, the administration was taken advantage of by Philips Respironics when negotiating the price of life-saving ventilators,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Philips on Monday announced a partial termination of its $646 million contract with the Department of Health and Human Services.

The contract, signed in April, ordered 2,500 ventilators by the end of May and 43,000 ventilators by the end of 2020. In Monday’s announcement, Philips said it would instead only provide a total of 12,300 bundled ventilator configurations to the national stockpile by the end of August.

“To date we have delivered on our commitments to HHS,” Royal Philips CEO Frans van Houten said. “I am proud that with great urgency and under intense pressure, we achieved a fourfold ventilator production expansion with substantial investments.”

Krishnamoorthi previously described the contract as a “waste of taxpayer funds” in a report last month.

“American taxpayers just saved over $400 million dollars after my subcommittee shined a spotlight on just one of the Trump administration’s wasteful contracts for COVID-19 supplies,” he wrote.

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