Top GOP senator says Trump should 'put a bunch of cotton' in the mouth of a trade adviser who claimed the US was going to dump the China trade deal

Associated PressPeter Navarro.
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley said that President Trump. should “put a bunch of cotton” in the mouth of Peter Navarro, a hawkish trade advisor who claimed the trade deal with China was “over” on Monday night.
  • “Just put a sock in his mouth, and don’t let him speak publicly,” Grassley told reporters during a Wednesday conference call.
  • Navarro’s comments prompted stock futures to tank 340 points and drew a swift rebuttal from Trump who declared the deal “fully intact” several hours later.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A prominent GOP senator said on Wednesday that President Donald Trump should “put a bunch of cotton” in the mouth of Peter Navarro, a top trade advisor who nearly tanked the US-China trade deal by declaring it “over.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a conference call to reporters that Trump should attempt to muzzle Navarro after he declared the agreement dead.

“The president oughta put a bunch of cotton in Navarro’s mouth… Just put a sock in his mouth, and don’t let him speak publicly,” he said. “That would take care of a lot of the problems you’re asking about.”

The comments from Grassley come after Navarro declared the US-China trade deal dead in a Monday evening interview with Fox News.

“Yes, it’s over,” Navarro said when he was asked about the status of the trade deal that’s in place.

The remarks prompted stock futures to plummet 340 points and drew a swift rebuttal from Trump, who declared the trade deal “fully intact” in a tweet later that evening.^tfw

Navarro later said he was taken “wildly out of context” in a statement.

“They had nothing at all to do with the Phase I trade deal, which continues in place,” Navarro told Reuters. “I was simply speaking to the lack of trust we now have of the Chinese Communist Party after they lied about the origins of the China virus and foisted a pandemic upon the world.”

Navarro has gone off-script in television interviews before – notably, when he said Trump was seeking a $US2 trillion stimulus package with hefty benefits for domestic manufacturers, The Washington Post reported. A senior administration official told the newspaper that Navarro “went rogue.”

Trump has blasted China’s management of the coronavirus pandemic. The spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States has cratered the US economy and put his re-election prospects in dire straits. At one point last month, he threatened to “cut off the whole relationship.”

Still, the White House has offered mixed signals on its approach to China in recent weeks.

Another top trade advisor, Peter Lighthizer, staunchly defended the trade deal last week in testimony to Congress. Agricultural groups have complained that China will fall short of its commitment to buy nearly $US37 billion worth of farm goods this year, given the sharp drop in consumer demand due to the pandemic.

“Every indication is that in spite of this Covid-19, they are going to do what they say,” Lighthizer told lawmakers.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.