AFL-CIO chief defends Trump move: 'Tariffs won't start a trade war'

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Thursday argued there is no danger President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE's new tariffs will start a trade war, siding with the president on tariffs that have angered the GOP.

"Tariffs won't start a trade war, there's 435 of them in place today to fight trade cheaters. People may not like how Pres Trump rolled these out, but I applaud him for trying," the union boss tweeted. 

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Trumka, the leader of the nation's largest trade union association, has become a staunch advocate for Trump's new tariffs, which Republicans have criticized

Trump officially announced a new 25 percent steel tariff and 10 percent aluminum tariff on Thursday. The international community has warned of retaliation in response, prompting GOP worries that the move will spark an international trade war.

The president tweeted last week that trade wars are "good" and "easy to win."

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinCharitable giving by individuals down in first year under Trump's tax law: study Charitable giving by individuals down in first year under Trump's tax law: study Congressional leaders, White House officials to meet Wednesday on spending MORE said this week the administration was aware of the fears of a trade war and underscored the president's emphasis on protecting domestic steel and aluminum industries.

"He does understand the potential impacts it has on the economy," Mnuchin told lawmakers at the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. "I think we have a way of managing through this.”

Trump has exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariffs while the U.S. continues negotiations with the two neighboring countries over the North American Free Trade Agreement.