WH Adviser Calls Melania Trump, Who Cut Down Jackie Kennedy's Trees From the Rose Garden, the 'Jackie Kennedy of Her Time'

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro offered lavish praise of first lady Melania Trump Tuesday, labeling her the "Jackie Kennedy of her time."

Navarro, head of President Donald Trump's White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, remarked on the "elegance" and "soft-spokennness" of the first lady ahead of her headline speech at the Republican National Convention Tuesday night. Navarro abruptly switched topics during an MSNBC appearance in which he was responding to questions about the Trump administration's coronavirus pandemic response. Navarro slipped in a comparison between Melania and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

The Melania-Jackie Kennedy comparison comes just days after the first lady was dragged by many Trump critics for renovating the Rose Garden, which had been through a redesign in the early 1960s, during the Kennedy administration.

"Melania Trump will be introducing the new Rose Garden, I find her to be the Jackie Kennedy of her time—the beauty, the elegance, the soft-spokenness," Navarro told MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell Tuesday morning. "I think she'll deliver a powerful message to the American people."

Photos emerged Friday showing the Rose Garden's refurbishment, which Melania also touted on social media. The New York Times first reported last month that the Rose Garden was being refurbished, prompting concerns whether taxpayer dollars were being used for the project. A Trump administration official quickly responded to the criticisms, saying the garden refurbishment was financed by private donors and with the support of the National Park Service, which is funded with taxpayer dollars.

Critics of the renovation complained Melania's updates have made the storied area less colorful.

"Preserving the history and beauty of the White House and its grounds is a testament to our nation's commitment to the care of this landscape and our dedication to American ideals, safeguarding them for our children and their children for generations to come," Trump wrote in a statement following the White House's announcement in July.

The Tuesday morning MSNBC segment had previously focused on the White House's ongoing coronavirus response and what progress the U.S. is having in developing a vaccine. "We're preparing for mass production of a vaccine should it be found to be safe and efficacious and that's my role," Navarro said, noting that topic may come up during tonight's RNC events.

Melania will be joined by other Trump family members at the podium Tuesday evening, including two of the president's children from previous marriages, Eric and Tiffany.

Navarro said he is most looking forward to seeing Maine lobster fisherman Jason Joyce's address to the RNC. Newsweek reached out to the White House for additional remarks Tuesday afternoon.

jackie kennedy melania trump comparison
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wearing sunglasses exits a Howard Johnson restaurant after having a meal there after Caroline Kennedy's graduation from Concord Academy on June 5, 1975 in Massachusetts. Onassis oversaw redesign of the Rose Garden in the early 1960s, during the Kennedy administration. PL GOULD / Contributor/Getty Images