Top Trump Adviser Caught Fabricating Source For His Books

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Only the best people, right? Wrong. Despite President Donald Trump notoriously using that phrase to describe the staffers he’d chosen to take on board, the actual behavior of his closest associates tells a markedly different, more deeply questionable story. Now, one of his top and most infamous trade advisers has been outed for having pointed to a fake source for multiple books he wrote. Peter Navarro employed that source, which he named Ron Vara (an anagram of his last name), for some eyecatching and at times even racially derogatory quotes about the Chinese.

The fake source came to light when people were looking into his history and could find no evidence that Vara actually existed. Navarro and one of his colleagues explained away the nonexistence of Ron Vara as a joke. One-time Navarro co-author Greg Autry admitted:

‘You’re not going to find Ron Vara… We do try to have a little bit of fun. If anybody wants to not enjoy that, they’re welcome to.’

When confronted, Navarro himself added, besides rather egomaniacally comparing the character to “Alfred Hitchcock appearing briefly in cameo in his movies”:

‘[Ron Vara is a] whimsical device and pen name I’ve used throughout the years for opinions and purely entertainment value, not as a source of fact… [It’s] refreshing that somebody finally figured out an inside joke that has been hiding in plain sight for years.’

To be clear, this “entertainment” has included direct racism about Chinese people, and the true author of that — who apparently thinks it’s no big deal to have lied about the sentiments’ origins — is now a close adviser to the president of the United States.

Trump relies on Navarro for significant matters; he was apparently the only key Trump adviser who supported Trump’s plan for a trade war against China, for instance.

And that globally reverberating policy stance is founded on the counsel of a man who wrote in 2011, which was not that long ago:

‘Only the Chinese can turn a leather sofa into an acid bath, a baby crib into a lethal weapon, and a cellphone battery into heart-piercing shrapnel.’

That’s no doubt one of the most poignant examples, in which Navarro seeks to paint Chinese people as some kind of mindless production machines or something on the immediate basis of absolutely nothing outside of their ethnic background. Other points at which Vara makes an appearance were at least somewhat less derogatory, but still off the edge. At one point, “he” insists that you’ve “got to be nuts to eat Chinese food.”

Navarro, for his part, has been and continues to be dismissed by those in the economics profession. University of Michigan professor Justin Wolfer quipped at one point that he “stands so far outside the mainstream that he endorses few of the key tenets of the profession.”

Notably enough, Glenn Hubbard, who co-authored a book with Navarro that came out in 2011 in which “Ron Vara” makes an appearance, claims he didn’t know that Vara didn’t actually exist and that he does not approve of what Navarro did. It’s not as though that’s likely to stop Navarro anytime soon, however.