Skip to main content

Prominent Trump Adviser on China Quoted Fictitious ‘Alter Ego’ in Scholarly Books


Peter Navarro, the former economics professor currently serving the Assistant to the President and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy for the White House is one of President Donald Trump’s most strident defenders, particularly when it comes to the current trade war with China, which Navarro has zealously championed. Alarmed by his heated rhetoric toward China, an Australian professor began studying Navarro’s past work and discovered that for decades he’s been publishing quotes from a man named “Ron Vara” — who is entirely fabricated. Ron Vara is an anagram of Navarro.

In researching Navarro’s work for a scholarly essay on his views, Australian National University professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki learned that Ron Vara, a Harvard educated military veteran whom Navarro quotes at least a dozen times in his six books, was literally made up to serve as the author’s “alter ego,” according to The Chronicle Review.

While some of those close to Navarro were conscious of the guise, at least one of Navarro’s co-authors was completely unaware. Glenn Hubbard is a professor of finance and economics at Columbia University and dean emeritus of the business school who co-authored the 2010 non-fiction book “Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity” with Navarro. He told The Chronicle Review he was not aware that Vara was fictional and did not sign off on the practice.

In response to the report, Navarro emailed a statement to the publication claiming he only used Vara to entertain readers, calling the character a “whimsical device and pen name I’ve used throughout the years for opinions and purely entertainment value, not as a source of fact,” adding that it was “refreshing that somebody finally figured out an inside joke that has been hiding in plain sight for years.”

As reporter Tom Bartlett pointed out, Navarro has long been criticized for his “sloppiness with sources” and use of unaccredited anecdotes, making it all the more ironic that upon bringing him into the White House Trump gushed that he was “impressed by the clarity of [Navarro’s] arguments and thoroughness of his research.”

It isn’t the first time that Navarro has come under scrutiny.

[image via Fox News screengrab]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.