The White House scrambled early on Sunday to explain why Donald Trump admitted to a reporter that he was having “second thoughts” about the trade war he has waged with China, saying that he didn’t really mean it.
During his visit to France for the G-7 Summit, Trump was asked if he was having second thoughts about the way the trade war with China has played out. Trump, who rarely expresses any regret for his decisions and is known for doubling down in the face of criticism, admitted that he has had differing thoughts on the matter.
“Might as well,” he told reporters in Biarritz, France, via The Week. “Might as well. I have second thoughts about everything.”
Trump went on to waver on plans he had floated earlier in the week to invoke a 1977 law that would allow him to intervene with U.S. businesses that work with China, the report noted. A few days ago, Trump had written a tweet saying that he “hereby declare” that U.S. businesses must halt their relationships with China as the country pushed back against new tariffs from the United States.
The trade war has had devastating effects in some areas of the American economy, closing the Chinese market for a number of farmers. As The Huffington Post reported, the National Farmers Union this week blasted the Trump administration for “burning bridges” with one of their largest trade partners.
Trump conceded regret about escalating trade war with China, then reversed course, saying he wished he’d raised the tariffs higher https://t.co/v58BJQ3QNx
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 25, 2019
— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) August 25, 2019
Donald Trump’s admission that he was having second thoughts about the trade war sent the White House scrambling early on Sunday, issuing a statement minutes later saying Trump’s remark was “greatly misinterpreted” by reporters and that he meant he only had regrets about not raising tariffs even higher.
“This morning in the (meeting) with the UK, the president was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.”
White House @PressSec says Trump's answer on having second thoughts on the escalating trade war with China was "greatly misinterpreted" by reporters. "President Trump responded in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher," she says.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) August 25, 2019
Donald Trump has frequently defended the trade war. He drew controversy earlier this week when he said he was the “chosen one” to conduct such a war, after he said a number of previous presidential administrations had failed to stand up to China. Economic experts say that the trade war can have potentially devastating effects on the American economy, which has shown signs of a potential recession on the horizon.