Trump's feud with Canada's Trudeau leaves GOP senators baffled

PHOTO: President Donald Trump shakes hands with Canadas Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a bilateral meeting at the G-7 summit in in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, on June 8, 2018.PlayLeah Millis/Reuters
WATCH Trump responds to Trudeau's tariff threat

Republicans on Capitol Hill are scratching their heads at President Donald Trump and his aides for their blistering attacks on one of the most trusted U.S. allies.

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"I don't know what happened exactly. Obviously, something happened," GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana told reporters late Monday.

Following the G7 meeting, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will "not be pushed around" by the U.S. with its decision to slap tariffs on some imports from Canada and other countries.

At a press conference Saturday, Trudeau said he had highlighted that "Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs on our steel and aluminum industry."

"For Canadians who … stood shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers in far-off lands and conflicts from the First World War onward ... it's kind of insulting,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister also said Canada would "move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1, applying equivalent tariffs to the ones that Americans have unjustly applied to us."

"It is not something we relish doing, but it is something that we absolutely will because Canadians, we're polite, we're reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around," Trudeau said.

Over the weekend, director of the U.S. National Economic Council Larry Kudlow on CNN accused Trudeau of "betrayal" and said he “stabbed us in the back,” while White House trade policy director Peter Navarro told "Fox News Sunday" that “there’s a special place in hell” for the Canadian prime minister.

"I understand 'a special place in hell' but I don't understand the context in which it was said. Sometimes people disagree, I don't think that makes you go to hell. I hope not," Kennedy quipped.

"You know, I will say I've seen some of the reporting on the various comments, and I have to note that I'm pretty sure that circles of hell are not reserved for Canadians proposing retaliatory tariffs," Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said.

South Dakota GOP Sen. Mike Rounds told reporters he'd like to know the rest of the story of what went on between Trump and Trudeau – that there must have been some sort of a violation of trust.

"There had to be an agreement someplace that the president clearly felt other members had clearly violated, or at least the prime minister had violated," Rounds said. "I don't know what it might be, but the message that the president sent was so strong to one of our allies that I really don't understand why they would do that unless he truly felt that there had been a violation of trust."

Rounds admitted the bitter war of words wasn't the best thing for a healthy relationship.

"I think any time you have this type of a public display that allows for separation between us and our allies, that's not a healthy thing," Rounds said. "But once again, we don't know the rest of the story and I'd like to hear about it."

Not coming to the president's defense? GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.

"To leave Canada the way that we did and to make the statements about a trusted ally like this is just wrong. It will have lasting complications," Flake told reporters.

Flake said this latest rhetoric from the administration puts the U.S. at risk of losing its place in the world order.

"That's why our allies have to be baffled at this. I mean we're the architects of this rules-based, international order on trade and security. Now we're running away from it. We're looking to uphold it and we're the ones burning it. It's just beyond the pale," he said.

Kennedy explained Trump's tough stance on trade using an analogy.

"Sometimes to make an omelet you gotta break a few eggs. Now that doesn't mean you have to break the eggs, and kill the chicken, and the rooster. You just need to break a few eggs. But sometimes you have to do that to get progress," Kennedy said.

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