President Donald Trump’s decision to disavow a joint statement after the Group of Seven meeting was a response to negative and “sophomoric” comments by Canada’s Justin Trudeau on the eve of a North Korea summit, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said.
Trudeau “really kind of stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, calling on the Canadian to apologize to Trump.
The U.S. helped negotiate the joint communique and was “very close to making a deal with Canada” on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Kudlow said. But the Canadian prime minister’s post-conference criticism Saturday was “a betrayal” that Trump needed to respond to, to avoid showing weakness on the eve of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he added.
“He is not going to permit any show of weakness on the trip to negotiate with North Korea, nor should he,” Kudlow said of Trump. “Kim must not see American weakness.”
Kudlow said the U.S. participated in G7 talks and bilateral talks on Nafta in good faith and that Trump had been “charming.” But the president broadsided his allies after leaving the meeting by disavowing a joint statement the U.S. had agreed to, criticizing Trudeau and vowing tariffs on automobiles.
“I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!,” Trump tweeted Saturday evening while en route to Singapore aboard Air Force One. “Very dishonest & weak,” he said of Trudeau.
At his closing press conference, Trudeau called U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs “insulting” and pledged to proceed with previously announced retaliatory tariffs.
Kudlow said Trump’s response was “completely a reaction”’ to Trudeau’s comments. He said Trudeau — whom at one point he said “staged” a “sophomoric political stunt for domestic consumption” and should apologize.
“In the name of the Western allies, he ought to come out today and wish President Trump well in the negotiations, instead of taking potshots at us,” Kudlow said.
At one point in the interview Kudlow termed Canada’s leader “Pierre” Trudeau, confusing the current prime minister with his late father, who served in the same capacity for more than 15 years between 1968 and 1984.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro echoed Kudlow’s comments, and said Trudeau’s post-conference comments were in bad faith.
“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.