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 TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' 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 CornynOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal 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 CollinsMurkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy Republicans, please save your party MORE (Maine) told CNN that Navarro's remarks were "completely unhelpful." Meanwhile, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMandel gets Club for Growth nod in Ohio Senate primary Rick Scott caught in middle of opposing GOP factions Five takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing 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 FlakeFormer GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination Klain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' 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 HatchHow President Biden can hit a home run Mellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line 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."