President Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, apologized Tuesday for saying Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deserved “a special place in hell” for what he characterized as an effort to undermine Trump.
“My job was to send a signal of strength,” Navarro said at a conference in Washington hosted by the Wall Street Journal. “The problem was that in conveying that message I used language that was inappropriate.”
“I own that, that was my mistake, those were my words,” he added.
Navarro’s broadside against Trudeau followed Trump’s decision over the weekend to pull the U.S. endorsement of a Group of Seven economic agreement. Trump did so after taking umbrage over comments made by Trudeau about the need for Canada to stand up to the United States on trade tariffs.
In a tweet, Trump charged Trudeau with “false statements” and accused him of being “dishonest” and “weak.”
Both Navarro and Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, echoed those sentiments during appearances on Sunday talk shows.
“POTUS is not gonna let a Canadian prime minister push him around,” Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Navarro ratcheted up the rhetoric further on “Fox News 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. “And that’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference.”
Navarro offered an apology at the Journal’s CFO Network event.
Trump, meanwhile, continued to be critical of Trudeau at a news conference in Singapore following his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump recalled learning of Trudeau’s remarks — in which he called U.S. tariffs “kind of insulting” — as he flew from the G-7 Summit in Canada to Singapore.
“When I got on to the plane, I think that Justin probably didn’t know that Air Force One has about 20 televisions,” Trump said. “And I see the television, and he’s giving a news conference about how he will not be pushed around by the United States. I say, push them around? We just shook hands. It was very friendly.”
Trump said he was retaliating against Canada with countervailing tariffs, saying of Trudeau: “He learned that’s going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada. He learned.”
Philip Rucker contributed to this report.