White House top economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Thursday rebuffed reports of a heated encounter between members of President Donald Trump’s trade team, calling it “misreported gossipy stuff.”
A guest on Fox Business’ “Varney & Company,” Kudlow tamped down an Axios report that described a heated shouting match between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and trade adviser Peter Navarro in Beijing two weeks ago.
Axios reported that both Navarro and Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, had been shut out of key talks in Beijing, a move that infuriated Navarro and led to the cursing match.
“I didn’t hear any shouting,” Kudlow told Fox’s Stuart Varney.
“I didn’t hear any cursing, least not in English, and I don’t speak Chinese all that well. This is a very overrated story and it ain’t much of a story, just gossip for heaven’s sakes.” Kudlow said.
Kudlow, however, did not deny that he and Navarro were shut out of talks – instead placed in a holding room – between Mnuchin and his Chinese counterpart, Liu He.
“I was in a lot of rooms,” Kudlow said.
“We have a very strong negotiating team. That doesn’t mean there aren’t occasional differences in tactics and so forth. I get all that,” Kudlow said. “I will say this, there’s a lot of misreported gossipy stuff that never went on.”
The report comes amid he’s visit to Washington Thursday and Friday as the two sides try to hammer out an agreement to avoid a trade war. Axios reports that Navarro will not be part of the meetings but the White House on Wednesday said he would be involved.
Liu He is “the top dog, he’s going to be bringing the varsity A team with him” to D.C., Kudlow said. “I’m kinda positive on this story. … It’s absolutely central to the president’s trade and economic policy.”
The central disagreement between Mnuchin and Navarro is that the secretary is seeking to avoid an all-out trade war while Navarro pushed for punitive measures against China’s trade abuses, Fox Business reports.
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