Conservative predicts Congress could rein in Trump on trade as markets drop

Conservative strategist Mattie Duppler says the new Congress could act to rein in President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE's "unorthodox" trade policies to calm market jitters.

"He’s, of course, taken a much more unorthodox Republican position on trade, so I’m curious moving into December what we do on the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, the new NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], whether or not Democrats defend or want to see changes to that,” Duppler, the founder and president of Forward Strategies, said during a “Rising” panel that aired Monday on Hill.TV.

Duppler saw room for the parties to work together on trade.

“We have Republicans and Democrats who have kind of been across the board on how they think we should address China," she said. "To me, those are the biggest public policy opportunities for Democrats and Republicans to step up and say ‘listen, globalizing our trade is not a bad thing, we need to do it responsibly.’ ”

Duppler said that Trump's trade policies are to blame for much of the stock market's volatility, calling it “the biggest issue” that needs to be “settled.”

The Dow Jones on Monday had its worst Christmas Eve on record, dropping more than 640 points. The Monday slide followed the Dow's worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. The S&P 500 didn't fare much better Monday, dropping more than 50 points and entering bear market. 

Trump's trade wars with China and the European Union, reports that the president has discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, and worrying signs of a potential slowdown in 2019 have contributed to the weak stock market.

The drop comes despite Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attempts to calm the markets over the weekend. Mnuchin said in a statement Sunday that he had spoken to the heads of six major U.S. banks and boasted of "strong economic growth" and “ample liquidity" for markets.

Trump renewed his attacks on the Fed Monday, saying the “only problem our economy has is the Fed," which he said does not understand “necessary Trade Wars.”

"The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch - he can’t putt!" Trump added, criticizing Powell for raising interest rates, which has also hurt the market.

Some experts have criticized Trump's attacks on the Fed and its rate hikes as misguided. Duppler said the controversy means that for now the public is paying attention to the central bank.

“In one sense, I love it that people are paying attention to the Federal Reserve and we have to have a conversation about what that is because I think most Americans don’t give it a passing glance,” she said.

—Tess Bonn