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 TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US 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 CornynFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown Trump, Feinstein feud intensifies over appeals court nominees MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Republican senator, argued that the comments were inappropriate.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality Graham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh MORE (Maine) told CNN that Navarro's remarks were "completely unhelpful." Meanwhile, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanElection Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms How Kavanaugh got the votes  Collins to support Kavanaugh, securing enough votes for confirmation 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 RyanThe Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump says GOP will support pre-existing condition protections | McConnell defends ObamaCare lawsuit | Dems raise new questions for HHS on child separations Poll finds Dems prioritize health care, GOP picks lower taxes when it's time to vote The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan MORE (Ky.), have so far remained silent. 

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMnuchin pulls out of Saudi conference The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns On The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference 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 HatchGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Congress should work with Trump and not 'cowboy' on Saudi Arabia, says GOP senator US to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK 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."