By the Associated Press
After striking a delicate deal with the United Arab Emirates on rules for airline competition, the Trump administration went to war with itself about what the agreement actually said.
President Donald Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro repeatedly contradicted the State Department’s carefully crafted script. He insisted the deal includes a “freeze” on so-called Fifth Freedom flights by the Emirati airlines that are loathed by U.S. carriers like Delta Air Lines.
The State Department insists there’s no freeze. So the wonky aviation pact erupted into a bitter, lobbyist-fueled international incident. The Emiratis complained to the administration.
The drama has played out as Navarro seeks to assert authority from his perch at Trump’s new White House trade and manufacturing office. It comes amid parallel tensions over Navarro’s role in China trade negotiations.