A typically disorganized and indecisive Donald Trump pulled back from announcing tariffs on steel and aluminum on Thursday morning, but promised to announce them “sometime next week.”
“We’ll be imposing tariffs on steel imports" and “on aluminum imports,” Trump told metals industry executives at the White House on Thursday. “Some time next week well be signing it in. And you’re going to have protection for the first time in a long time.”
"It will be 25 percent for steel. It will be 10 percent for aluminum,” he said in response to question from reporters.
Trump was initially billed as planning to make a major trade announcement on Thursday, but the event instead turned into a listening session with steel and aluminum industry CEOs. That’s because of White House turmoil:
The planned announcement had been kept secret from many senior White House officials to prevent a last-minute backlash that could sway Trump. The prospects for an announcement within 24 hours never came up at a high-level meeting at the White House on Wednesday morning, a person familiar with the meeting said. Late into the night Wednesday, White House officials and GOP congressional aides called each other seeking information about the president’s plans.
The scramble late Wednesday — when some senior administration officials were aware of the planned announcement while others were not — shows the shifting power centers within the White House economic team in recent weeks. The departure of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, forced to resign amid allegations of spousal abuse, left the internal policy process rudderless. Other key departures also have made it easier for White House advisers with nationalist views to exert more influence.
Trump’s anti-tariff advisers will presumably take the coming days to lobby him to change his mind and pretend that he never said anything about “sometime next week.” You know the drill: we can expect leaking and backstabbing coming out of the White House, while Trump changes his mind several times and pretends everything he’s said and done is completely consistent.