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 TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone 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 Cornyn Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Trump struggles to reshape Fed Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks 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 CollinsSenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump GOP senator: 'No problem' with Mueller testifying MORE (Maine) told CNN that Navarro's remarks were "completely unhelpful." Meanwhile, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller GOP senator wears shirt honoring Otto Warmbier at Korean DMZ On The Money: Conservatives rally behind Moore for Fed | White House interviewing other candidates | Trump, Dems spar on Tax Day | Budget watchdogs bemoan 'debt denialism' 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."
 

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakePollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge Trump gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing Flake opens up about threats against him and his family 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 HatchHatch warns 'dangerous' idea of court packing could hurt religious liberty Former Democratic aide pleads guilty to doxing GOP senators attending Kavanaugh hearing How do we prevent viral live streaming of New Zealand-style violence? 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."