WASHINGTON—For Peter Navarro, President Donald Trump’s trade guru, it’s been quite a turnaround.
[Bob Davis | March 8, 2018 | WSJ]
Last spring, he was running the White House’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, an impressive-sounding group that consisted of himself and an aide in a single room in a building across the alley from the Oval Office. He couldn’t persuade the White House to hire him an administrative assistant, and he reported to the president through his rival, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
The White House, the 68-year-old told some visitors, was like the bloody TV series “Game of Thrones,” and he was dodging arrows. The “deep state”—conservative lingo for the Washington bureaucracy—was trying to torpedo the president, he complained.
Mr. Navarro also urged the U.S. to create a partnership with Europe, Japan “and other victims of China’s mercantilism” to sue China in the World Trade Organization. President Trump has eschewed such multilateralism. The proposed steel and aluminum tariffs would apply to many nations and have raised protests in Western nations and China, producing a kind of ad-hoc coalition against U.S. trade policy.
Early in his White House tenure, Mr. Navarro was boxed in. His National Trade Council—himself and his aide—busied itself trying to help individual companies with trade problems, not setting broad trade policy. Putting the best face on it, Mr. Navarro at the time called it a “SWAT team” approach.