WASHINGTON – Top advisers to U.S. President Donald Trump heaped unprecedented insults on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday, bringing U.S.-Canada to a modern low — in an attempt, one of the advisers suggested, to impress North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
In interviews on CNN on Fox News, Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, and one of his top aides on trade, Peter Navarro, slammed Trudeau with a series of disparaging adjectives, from “amateurish” to “dishonest,” and accused him of a backstabbing “betrayal” of the president.
It was unclear why Trump and his aides have suddenly begun speaking of Trudeau this way. Until Kudlow explained: Trump is attacking Trudeau because he is trying to show Kim that he is tough.
Trudeau’s Saturday criticism of Trump’s trade policy, Kudlow said on CNN, had made Trump look weak just before the president departed for his talks with Kim. And Trump, Kudlow said, “is not going to permit any show of weakness on a trip to negotiate with North Korea.”
“This is an historic event. Good things, wonderful things could come out of it. Now, POTUS (president of the United States) is not gonna let a Canadian prime minister push him around, push him, POTUS, around, President Trump, on the eve of this,” Kudlow said.
The administration’s supposed problem with Trudeau was the Saturday news conference in which the prime minister politely offered the same criticism of Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs that he had been uttering all week. Trudeau said again that the “national security” tariffs were an insult when applied to a close ally, that Canada would not be “pushed around” on trade, and that he would impose retaliatory tariffs “with regret” if necessary.
The language from Kudlow and Navarro toward Trudeau was a remarkable story in itself.
Trump called Trudeau “dishonest and weak” in a tweet on Saturday. Kudlow, speaking on Sunday morning, delivered a string of additional insults — claiming Trudeau had been “sophomoric” and “amateurish,” that he had gone “rogue,” that he had “betrayed” Trump and “really kind of stabbed us in the back.”
In an interview later in the morning on Fox News, Peter Navarro, a trade hard-liner who has Trump’s ear, went even further.