There's no love lost between Trump's top trade adviser Peter Navarro and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
The New York Times previously reported that Navarro and Mnuchin got into a profanity-laced shouting match during a trip to China early this month in full view of Chinese trade officials, but Navarro is now calling out Mnuchin publicly.
The White House made a surprise announcement yesterday when it declared that Trump's trade war with China is back on, but Navarro says Mnuchin's announcement that the trade war was canceled was never correct.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro criticized Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for declaring the U.S.-China trade war was on hold, calling the remarks an “unfortunate sound bite” and acknowledging there’s a dispute that needs to be resolved.
“What we’re having with China is a trade dispute, plain and simple,” Navarro said in an interview broadcast Wednesday with National Public Radio. “We lost the trade war long ago” with deals such as Nafta and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, he said.
I'd rather not pick a side between Steve Mnuchin and Peter Navarro, but look: Navarro is completely batshit
I believe the most likely explanation for this stunning incoherence is Trump himself. I believe Steve Mnuchin said what he knew to be accurate at the time. The White House's own actions and statements following Mnuchin's announcement corroborate it. Trump tweeted that he made a deal with China to buy more American-made goods and the White House made no effort to correct Mnuchin.
So, what changed? Well, everyone realized China didn't actually agree to anything specific and headlines in the news quickly reflected that. Reports began to accurately indicate that Trump got virtually nothing out of talks with China other than a suspicious effort to bail out the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE.
I believe Trump canceled the trade war on a whim and reinstated it on a whim and, if that's true, Steve Mnuchin wasn't lying.
For his part, Peter Navarro believes the trade war is already over. He is ideologically cemented somewhere in the 1980s and he lives like a retired spy still vicariously fighting the Cold War by feeding birds outside the embassy in Washington.
Obviously, none of this bodes well for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's upcoming trip to China where he'll make one last effort to prevent a hot war. Even if Wilbur Ross were able to secure a deal of some description, it would have to be co-signed by this pack of feral kittens.
The last time Ross made a deal, Trump told him he was "past his prime."