President Donald Trump’s chief trade adviser on Sunday laced into The Washington Post’s “fake news” story on White House chief of staff John Kelly’s dwindling influence in the White House.
In an interview with NBC News’ “Meet The Press,” Peter Navarro, director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, insisted Kelly “has the confidence of the president and he's getting the job done.”
“He's a great man and courageous man,” he said of Kelly. “He serves the president. He has the president's ear and runs the West Wing well. That's all I know, that’s all I see.”
“When you read stuff in the Washington Post, frankly, that's fake news most of the time,” he charged.
He also batted back when moderator Chuck Todd called the criticism a “cheap shot.”
"Mr. Todd, that is not a cheap shot,” he said. “Because if you look at the newspapers that I read every day across the spectrum, the Washington Post in my judgment tends to attack the president more than any other newspaper in its news stories."
"I used to deliver the Washington Post in high school and guess what? That was a good paperback then. It's not right now,” he declared.
Navarro also tried to clarify the administration’s threat of tariffs on China, initially suggesting it was a negotiating tool with the Chinese, then insisting “it is not” a ploy.
“The administration wants to have it both ways, telling the Chinese we're serious about tariffs and then telling the public, no, no, no, it's a negotiating ploy and a negotiating tactic. Which is it?” Todd asked.
“It's both, Mr. Todd,” he replied. “Basically, what we have here is a situation where every American understands that China is stealing our intellectual property. They're forcing of transfer of our technologies when companies go to China and by doing that they steal jobs from America and they steal factories from America and we run an unprecedented $370 billion a year trade deficit in goods.”
But moments later, he insisted: I don't believe, if you played back what I said just a minute ago, that I said was a negotiating tactic, it's not.”
“We're listening to the Chinese,” he continued. “We're willing to work with them. This government, through [George W.] Bush, [Barack] Obama and now the courage and vision of Donald Trump, we're willing to listen to the Chinese.
“But we're clear-eyed about this. We're moving forward on a measured way with tariffs, with investment restrictions.”
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