GOP senators blast White House aide over trade remarks
© Greg Nash

Republican senators hit back on Monday at White House aide Peter Navarro after President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' Trump claims tariffs on foreign nations will rescue US steel industry: report Bannon announces pro-Trump movie, operation team ahead of midterms: report MORE's trade adviser said there was a "special place in hell" for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Navarro's comments, made over the weekend, add new fuel to long-simmering tensions with Senate Republicans, who take a fundamentally different approach to trade than the top White House staffer.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTop Senate Intel Dem: Trump compiling a 'Nixonian enemies list' It’s possible to protect national security without jeopardizing the economy Archivist rejects Democrats' demand for Kavanaugh documents MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Republican senator, argued that the comments were inappropriate.

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"I think if Mr. Navarro worked for me I would probably give him a stern talking to. I think that's — attacking a foreign leader like that directly and being a staffer is to me inappropriate," Cornyn said. 

GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan Kavanaugh has 'productive' meeting with key swing votes Budowsky: Collins, Murkowski and Kavanaugh MORE (Maine) told CNN that Navarro's remarks were "completely unhelpful." Meanwhile, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate study: Trump hasn’t provided adequate support to detained migrant children Senators introduce bill to change process to levy national security tariffs A single courageous senator can derail the Trump administration MORE (R-Ohio), a former U.S. trade representative, said "yeah, I don't think it's effective," when asked about the comments. 

Navarro hit back at Trudeau following the Group of Seven summit, where the United States refused to sign the traditional group communique. Trudeau, after Trump left the summit, said Canada would move forward with retaliatory tariffs, saying his country will "not be pushed around."
 
Trump reacted with fury, saying Trudeau had been "meek and mild" in person only to change his tune before the cameras.
"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 told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."
 
Navarro's comments sparked immediate backlash from the international community. But top Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, including House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump revokes Brennan's security clearance The Hill's 12:30 Report Poll: Republicans favor Scalise for Speaker; Dems favor Pelosi MORE (Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senator reviving effort to rein in Trump on tariffs The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP’s midterm strategy takes shape MORE (Ky.), have so far remained silent. 

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP Senate candidate truncates Trump tweet in campaign mailer GOP senator reviving effort to rein in Trump on tariffs Hatch 'not comfortable' with Trump calling Omarosa a 'dog' MORE (Ariz.), a vocal Trump critic who is retiring after 2018, said in a tweet over the weekend aimed at Republicans that: "This is not who we are. This cannot be our party." 

White House legislative director Marc Short said on Monday that Navarro's comments weren't an "official position" of the administration's.
 
"I think that those are words that I would not have chosen. ... I think that the judgment day that separates us from heaven or hell is not dependent upon whether you agree with the president or not," Short added
 
It's not the first time Navarro, the director of the White House’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, has been at odds with Senate Republicans. Navarro is viewed as a trade skeptic and has been critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
 
When the administration first floated slapping steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchDem lawmaker calls Trump racist in response to 'dog' comment PETA calls out Trump for attacking Omarosa as a 'dog' Hatch 'not comfortable' with Trump calling Omarosa a 'dog' MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters that Navarro should "know better" and that he believed he was "misleading the president."
 
After the latest dust-up with Trudeau, Hatch told reporters on Monday that Navarro "should've kept his big mouth shut."