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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 1:00 am

Adviser apologizes for 'place in hell' comment

Bloomberg

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro apologized for suggesting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deserved a “special place in hell” for a perceived breach in protocol against President Donald Trump.

“My job was to send a signal of strength,” he said Tuesday at a Wall Street Journal CFO Network conference in Washington. “The problem was that in conveying that message I used language that was inappropriate.”

Citing Chinese philosopher Confucius, Navarro said, “If you make a mistake and don't correct it, that's a mistake.”

Navarro, a supporter of tariffs to help reduce the U.S.' trade deficit, turned his anger at Canada over the weekend as a Group of Seven meeting hosted by Trudeau ended in disarray and trade threats. After leaving the summit early, Trump tweeted he was pulling U.S. support from a joint statement and he accused Trudeau, the summit's host, of being weak and dishonest during a news conference.

Navarro took the attack a step further on Sunday.

“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 said on Fox News.

The criticism was echoed by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who joined Trump at the G-7 meetings. He called on Trudeau to apologize to Trump. Kudlow was hospitalized after suffering a mild heart attack when he returned to Washington. He's expected to make a full recovery.

Navarro's willingness to walk back his outburst marked a departure from the Trump administration's never-say-you're-sorry approach to political crises.