The agency awarded the sole-source contract six days later. Air Boss was represented by a retired Army general, Jack Keane, who had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Mr. Trump just days before the contract was issued
In a statement, Mr. Navarro said he wanted to move aggressively to combat the threat of the virus.
“In a war, you need to move with warp speed,” he wrote. “My mission was to assist the president in saving lives, which we undeniably did. Given the same set of facts, I would do everything exactly the same. Full stop!”
But the Democrats, led by Representative James C. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 House Democrat, questioned Mr. Navarro’s efforts.
They noted that officials in Mr. Navarro’s office had coordinated with executives at the Eastman Kodak Company, best known for its photography business, which then entered into a letter of intent in June 2020 to collaborate on the domestic manufacture of pharmaceutical agents, even though the company had no experience in that field.
Mr. Navarro also pushed for the Trump administration to award a $354 million contract to Phlow, a brand-new company in Richmond, Va., to manufacture generic medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients — an effort aimed at building up an American manufacturing base for products that were needed to treat Covid-19 but were made overseas. The Democrats’ investigation found that Mr. Navarro had been introduced to Phlow’s chief executive in November 2019.