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 TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' 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 CornynDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Cornyn disputes GAO report on withholding of Ukraine aid: It's 'certainly not a crime' 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 CollinsMcConnell proposes compressed schedule for impeachment trial GOP can beat Democrats after impeachment — but it needs to do this one thing Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump MORE (Maine) told CNN that Navarro's remarks were "completely unhelpful." Meanwhile, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Bipartisan group of senators introduces legislation to boost state cybersecurity leadership Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico 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 FlakeFlake: Republicans don't speak out against Trump 'because they want to keep their jobs' GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials The 5 most vulnerable senators in 2020 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 HatchKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Trump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske Trump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals 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."