Thursday, September 13, 2018

Peter Navarro ‘Source of All Chaos,’ Says Bob Woodward

Peter Navarro is “the source of all the chaos” in the White House when it came to trade policy, a rival adviser says in “Fear,” Bob Woodward’s new book on the Donald Trump presidency.

“Cohn took every chance he could get to tell [White House Chief of Staff John] Kelly how Navarro was an absolute disaster,” Woodward writes on page 277 of the book.

“Get rid of him, Cohn argued, fire him,” Woodward writes.

This rings very true. Navarro is the economically ignorant mercantilist at the Whit House.

“Peter’s out there going rogue,” Cohn is quoted in the book as saying. “He’s telling the president
lies. He’s totally unchecked. He’s the source of all the chaos in this building.”

 “Both Trump and Navarro were passionate believers that trade deficits harmed the U.S. economy,” Woodward writes. “Navarro agreed with Trump on steel and aluminum tariffs though few others did.”

In another episode, then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is shown a pouting two-page note by Navarro, intended for Trump, about the economic factions in the West Wing.

“Mr. President, are you aware that under pressure from the Cohn faction, I was demoted on Day One from Assistant to Deputy, given zero staff on trade, went almost three weeks without an office and have had no direct access to the Oval Office?”

Navarro appealed to Trump with a golf analogy.

“I have been given only a five iron and a putter and ordered to shoot par on trade — an impossible task,” Woodward quotes from the “Eyes Only” memo, apparently supplied by Priebus or Porter.

Porter feared that Trump, if he read the memo, would make trade policy a “major fight” in the White House.

So Porter told Priebus he’d just “keep [the memo] on my desk, keep it in my files. Not going anywhere.

But Navarro took things into his own hands in April 2017 after Trump demanded an executive order withdrawing the United States from NAFTA. Porter, the staff secretary in charge of paperwork, noted it first had to be a 180-day termination notice.

After being warned against any action by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Trump decided to hold off.

But Navarro “slipped into the Oval Office for an ad hoc, unscheduled meeting with the president,” Woodward writes.

Navarro tells Trump — again looking for action on NAFTA — that Porter’s process “is holding all this stuff up.” That leads to Trump demanding to see Porter immediately.

Porter then drafts a 180-day NAFTA pullout notice for Trump’s signature.

Fearing a crisis with Canada and Mexico, Porter went to Cohn.

“I can stop this,” Cohn is quoted as telling Porter. “I’ll just take the paper off his desk before I leave.”

But now Cohn is gone. I doubt his replacement, Larry Kudlow, as the forcefulness to fight Navarro.

I expect a major escalation in the trade wars after the mid-term elections.


(via The Times of San Diego

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