Legal Expert Reveals Whether Trump Can Force U.S. Companies To Cease Doing Business With China

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media in the Oval Office.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

On Friday, President Donald Trump “ordered” American companies to cease doing business with China.

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” the president tweeted.

As The Inquisitr reported, the tweets came with an announcement of yet another set of tariffs on Chinese goods. This caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to crater, bringing down the shares of corporations such as Amazon, FedEx, UPS, Nvidia, and Apple.

The president also attacked the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Jerome Powell, blaming the central bank for the issues the American economy is facing, while urging it to cut interest rates.

Trump’s “order” directing American companies to look for alternatives to China caught the most intense media attention, to which the president responded as he frequently does.

In a Saturday Twitter message, he slammed the “fake news reporters,” arguing that the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 allows him to order U.S. companies who to do business with.

“Case closed!” the president wrote.

According to legal expert Elie Mystal, Trump has no power to order privately owned companies what to do.

In an interview with MSNBC broadcast on Saturday, Mystal explained why the president cannot simply order an American company to cease doing business with China, according to Raw Story.

The legal expert explained that Trump is arguing that he has the authority to invoke the Emergency Economic Powers act, which is similar to the National Emergencies act — meaning, the president appears to believe that he has the authority to “do all kinds of crazy things” like he would in a planned, state-controlled economy.

However, according to Mystal, such an emergency can only be declared “under unusual and extraordinary circumstances,” and the situation with China does not meet the legal requirement.

“China existing is not unusual or extraordinary, it’s just a thing that always has happened. So there is very little legally binding precedent to suggest that Trump can declare a national emergency, a national economic emergency, based on China existing.”

According to the legal expert, the last time a president used these powers was during the Iran hostage crisis, when the Iranian regime took American hostages.


Not all legal experts agree with Mystal’s assessment, however.

Harvard Law professor Jack Goldsmith argued via Twitter that this power has been given to the commander-in-chief by Congress, which means that Trump can declare an emergency to counter the “extraordinary” China threat.

According to Goldsmith, the language in the International Emergency Economic Powers Act is broad and vague enough to allow Trump to do what he wants to do to counter China.