Trump ad­viser ex­presses re­gret for Trudeau slam

Navarro says he went too far as he aimed for strength

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Jenny Leonard and Reade Pick­ert The Wash­ing­ton Post con­trib­uted.

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.

CHIP SO­MOD­EV­ILLA/GETTY

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