May 16, 2018

Scoop: Peter Navarro's sharp words for Steven Mnuchin

Peter Navarro. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A major rift has opened up between Trump's hardline trade adviser, Peter Navarro, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, according to five sources familiar with their encounters.

What we're hearing: On the Trump delegation's trip to China two weeks ago, Navarro exchanged sharp words with Mnuchin over his decision to participate in one-on-one talks with his Chinese counterpart Liu He. Navarro — a hardliner against China — cursed at Mnuchin and fumed about being shut out of the talks, the sources said. "It stems from his belief that Mnuchin is steering them down the wrong path, policy-wise, with China," said a source familiar with their interactions.

Why this matters: China's top trade negotiator Liu He is visiting Washington this week for talks aimed at striking a deal with the U.S. to avoid a trade war. Meanwhile, Navarro has been concerned about Mnuchin leading Trump towards a deal that would give up on punishing China with aggressive tariffs for its theft of U.S. intellectual property.

The details: The White House has confirmed that the expected attendees at Thursday's talks are Mnuchin, Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and NEC director Larry Kudlow.

  • The source added that the deputy director of the National Economic Council, Everett Eissenstat, is expected to staff the meeting.

Flashback: Top White House officials feud over China

Correction: An earlier version of this story cited a source confirming Bloomberg's reporting that Peter Navarro would not be present at Thursday's meeting. It has been updated to reflect a comment from the White House that Navarro and Larry Kudlow will be in attendance.

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