Speaking at a Wall Street Journal conference in Washington, the director of the White House National Trade Council said he “used language that was inappropriate” during a recent television appearance. Mr Navarro appeared on Fox News Sunday after President Trump had called Mr Trudeau “weak” and “dishonest” for saying he would protect Canada from new US tariffs.
“Let me correct a mistake I made,” Mr Navarro said. “In conveying that message, I used language that was inappropriate and basically lost the power of that message.”
Mr Navarro’s apology marked a clear departure from the administration’s hostility towards the Canadian leader in the wake of last week’s G7 summit.
Mr Trump was clearly frustrated by a press conference following the event, where Mr Trudeau vowed to implement “retaliatory measures” to the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. That press conference followed the release of a joint statement from the G7 leaders on the principles of “free and fair” trade that had been agreed upon by all parties.
“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,” Mr Trudeau said. “Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.”
Mr Trump then cited Mr Trudeau’s press conference on Twitter as his reason behind suddenly choosing to reverse an endorsement of the G7 communique, before disparaging the Canadian prime minister’s character.
Mr Navarro then appeared on Fox and said: “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.”
Although the official walked his comments back on Tuesday, he added that tensions were seemingly high on Air Force One as the president tuned into Mr Trudeau’s remarks.
“I own that. That was my mistake, those were my words,” Mr Navarro said. ”Those are my words, but they’re the sentiment that was on Air Force One after that.”
The White House’s feud with Canada has prompted a backlash from both sides of the political aisle, with Utah Senator Orrin Hatch telling CNN that Navarro “should have kept his big mouth shut because I don’t think that helps us inform policy and I think frankly it was out of line.”
“It’s an awful way to treat your allies,” Arizona Senator Jeff Flake also told the same network