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Trump aide accuses Trudeau of “backstabbing” as relations tank

Trump’s top economic advisor said the president doesn't want to appear weak to North Korea

by Rachel Browne
Jun 10 2018, 8:47pm

Political relations between Canada and the U.S. took a nosedive this weekend as President Trump and his advisors piled on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for remarks he made during the G7 Summit about a brewing trade war.

Trump said the U.S. would not endorse the joint G7 statement after he accused Trudeau of making “false statements” during a press conference after leaders met in Charlevoix, Quebec on Saturday.

At that press conference, Trudeau repeated the line he had been delivering all week amid an escalating trade war. He reiterated Canada’s determination to, come July 1, impose retaliatory tariffs against American goods — a move in response to Trump-imposed tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel.

"I have made it very clear to the President that it is not something we relish doing, but it something that we absolutely will do," Trudeau said on Saturday. "Canadians, we're polite, we're reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around."

“He really kinda stabbed us in the back,” Larry Kudlow, Trump’s economic advisor, said in an interview Sunday morning with CNN’s Jake Tapper in response to Trudeau. He accused him of betrayal and a “sophomoric play.” He added that the reaction was actually about how Trudeau’s remarks made Trump look ahead of his historic denuclearization negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

“POTUS is not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around, push him, POTUS, around on the eve of this. He is not going to permit any show of weakness on the trip to negotiate with North Korea,” said Kudlow. “Kim must not see American weakness.”

Other Trump advisors had more harsh words for the Canadian leader on Sunday morning.

"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," trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox News. "And that's what bad faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That's what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did, and that comes right from Air Force One."

Trudeau would not respond to those remarks on Sunday as he entered more G7 meetings.

Canada’s foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland held a press conference, telling reporters that both she and the prime minister were insulted by the comments coming out of the U.S.

“Canada does not believe that ad hominem attacks are a particularly appropriate or useful way to conduct our relations with other countries,” Freeland said when asked about Navarro’s comments. She repeatedly slammed the “illegal” tariffs being imposed against Canadian aluminum and steel and said that any retaliatory measures being taken by Canada come from a place of “sorrow” rather than anger.

Freeland announced last week that Canada will impose “dollar-for-dollar” retaliatory tariffs on up to $16.6 billion worth of U.S. goods — including a wide range of products from steel to pens — beginning this July 1st, Canada Day.

She has described the measures as the strongest trade action Canada has ever taken since the Second World War.

In an apparent rebut Trump trade advisor Peter Navarro's remarks, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted praise at Trudeau and Canada on Sunday afternoon after the summit had ended.

"There's a special place in heaven for @JustinTrudeau," wrote Tusk. "Canada, thank you for the perfect organisation of G7!"

Trump continued his assault on Trudeau, the European Union and America's NATO allies Monday, firing off a series of angry tweets ahead of his summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Trump has used a “national security” provision to impose a 25 percent steel tariff and 10 percent aluminum tariff on Canada, Mexico and the European Union. But in a tweet following the G7, he wrote that that the move against Canada was in response to Canadian tariffs on dairy.

Trump’s move to reject the G7 communiqué agreed to by the rest of the world leaders drew condemnation from Germany and France.

“International co-operation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks,” a representative for French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters.

Germany’s foreign affairs minister tweeted: “You can destroy an incredible amount of trust very quickly in a tweet.”

This article originally appeared on VICE News CA.