Trump adviser expresses regret for Trudeau slam
Navarro says he went too far as he aimed for strength
WASHINGTON — White House trade adviser Peter Navarro expressed regret for suggesting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deserved a “special place in hell” for a perceived breach in protocol against President Donald Trump.
“My job was to send a signal of strength,” he said Tuesday at a Wall Street Journal CFO Network conference in Washington. “The problem was that in conveying that message I used language that was inappropriate.”
Citing Chinese philosopher Confucius, Navarro said, “If you make a mistake and don’t correct it, that’s a mistake.”
Navarro, a supporter of tariffs to help reduce the U.S. trade deficit and a longtime critic of China, turned his anger at Canada over the weekend as a Group of Seven meeting hosted by Trudeau ended in disarray and trade threats. After leaving the summit early, Trump tweeted he was pulling U.S. support from a joint statement and he accused Trudeau, the summit’s host, of being weak and dishonest during a news conference.
Navarro took the attack a step further on Sunday.
“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” Navarro said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The criticism was echoed by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who joined Trump at the G-7 meetings. He called on White House trade adviser Peter Navarro had suggested “there’s a special place in hell” for Canada’s leader. Trudeau to apologize to Trump. Kudlow was hospitalized after suffering a mild heart attack when he returned to Washington. He’s expected to make a full recovery.
Navarro’s willingness to walk back his outburst marked a departure from the Trump administration’s never-say-you’re-sorry approach to political crises.
The apology could ease tensions after Canada’s Parliament condemned the personal attack on Trudeau and as Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland gets ready to meet with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.
Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said Tuesday that he’s “glad” that Navarro admitted that he misspoke. “The comment was a bit over the top,” Corker said.
Later on Tuesday, Senate GOP leaders blocked a vote on legislation that would give Congress veto power over certain presidential tariffs — prompting Corker to accuse his Republican colleagues of being afraid to vote against Trump.
“‘Gosh, we might poke the bear’ is the language I’ve been hearing in the hallways,” Corker, who authored the amendment in question, said in a fiery floor speech.
“We might poke the bear. The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker amendment, so we’re going to do everything we can to block it,” said Corker, who is retiring at year’s end.
The leadership’s move, which blocked Corker from including his legislation as an amendment on a pending defense bill, probably killed it for good — and with it, Congress’s best chance of taking any action to confront Trump on trade.
Corker had assembled a bipartisan coalition of more than a dozen senators to sign onto his bill, which would have given Congress veto power over tariffs issued in the name of national security, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., termed it an “exercise in futility” because Trump would never sign such legislation.