Top Trump official actually admitted the president's excuse for his trade wars is bogus: columnist

Top Trump official actually admitted the president's excuse for his trade wars is bogus: columnist
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, United States Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, delivers remarks prior the signing ceremony of the U.S. China Phase One Trade Agreement Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

This week, a long list of business and political leaders from around the world headed to Davos, Switzerland to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). President Donald Trump was present, along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin — who, according to Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell, “let slip” an “embarrassing admission” that Trump’s “justification for his trade wars is hogwash.”

Appearing on a WEF panel on Wednesday, Rampell asserts, Mnuchin “finally acknowledged the obvious: that the administration’s official rationale for auto tariffs was made up, a legal fiction designed to let it bully or retaliate against opponents whenever Trump felt like it.”

Trump, Rampell points out, has been equating tariffs with “national security,” but at the WEF panel, Mnuchin admitted that tariffs are applied arbitrarily. During a discussion of digital service taxes that some European countries have proposed, Mnuchin told the crowd during the WEF panel, “If people want to just arbitrarily put taxes on our digital companies, we will consider arbitrarily putting taxes on car companies.”

Rampell notes that Trump’s administration has offered “increasingly ludicrous explanations for its tariffs” — and the most “farcical rationale,” according to Rampell, is that “massive tariffs are necessary to safeguard America’s national security.”

Mnuchin, Rampell writes, “has just given us” a “useful CliffsNotes version” of how he views tariffs: “it’s all just arbitrary.”

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