Peter Navarro not involved in Trump team trade meetings with China

High-level trade talks between the United States in China start in Washington on Thursday without Peter Navarro, President Donald Trump‘s hawkish advisor, after confusion earlier this week about his participation.

Navarro participated in a kickoff dinner Wednesday night, but would not be taking part in the official meetings beginning Thursday at the Treasury Department, according to a source with knowledge of the discussion. However, a White House official insisted Navarro would take part in some of the talks Thursday, though not some of the meetings including higher-level officials.

Navarro has pushed for a tough response to Chinese, which has put him at odds with counterparts in the Trump administration.

On Wednesday night, the trade advisor told associates he would attend the talks after originally being excluded, a source said. One source of questions around Navarro’s participation was an alleged episode during the American delegation’s early May trip to Beijing that set him at odds with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

During one trade meeting at which which Chinese officials talked at length about history and international relations, Navarro used an expletive in telling his Chinese counterparts he did not need a history lesson, according to a source briefed on the exchange.

However, another source with personal knowledge of the discussions said Navarro did not “curse out” Chinese officials and described the bilateral discussions as “cordial.” The person suggested that the story about Navarro started as part of a “coordinating shivving campaign” that points back to Mnuchin.

Navarro has problems with how Mnuchin has negotiated with Chinese officials, a source familiar with the discussions said. The person said Navarro took issue with Mnuchin canceling team trade discussions in Beijing and negotiating with the Chinese delegation himself. The trade advisor has also taken issue with the path of the talks, believing the Treasury secretary is not doing enough to protect U.S. intellectual property, the source said.

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