GOP senators surprised to attend Trump’s tariffs announcement

GOP senators surprised to attend Trump’s tariffs announcement
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GOP lawmakers who visited the White House on Wednesday were surprised to walk into President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE's announcement on reducing tariffs with the European Union. 

A group of lawmakers told ABC News that they were supposed to meet with Trump about trade, but instead the president pulled them into the Rose Garden event with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. 

“The word that we got from staff was, as it was coming together, [Trump] was saying, ‘OK, what’s the next meeting?'" Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordCPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Republicans see Becerra as next target in confirmation wars Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March MORE (R-Okla.) told ABC. "And they said, 'Mr. President, the next meeting is with senators and House members,' and he said, 'Well, just bring them on out to hear this because they'll want to hear it.'" 


The group of senators and House members, most of whom are from agricultural states, planned to warn Trump against his aggressive trade policies. 

Trump in recent weeks has slapped billions of dollars in tariffs on products from countries including China, Mexico and Canada, as well as the EU. 

During the announcement on Wednesday, Trump announced he and Juncker had agreed "to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods," indicating a reduction in tension.

Though it appeared to some onlookers that the Republican lawmakers were attending the announcement with prior knowledge of its content, they confirmed to ABC that they did not know what it was going to be about. 

“We arrived there, and then we became eye candy,” Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsPat Roberts joins lobbying firm weeks after Senate retirement Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes Window quickly closing for big coronavirus deal MORE (R-Kan.) said. 


The lawmakers said they wanted to discuss the Trump administration's recent offer to provide $12 billion in aid for farmers affected by other countries' retaliatory tariffs. They said they wanted Trump to roll back tariffs rather than provide government aid, ABC reported. Farm groups have also expressed concern.

"Our sense is the dominoes can’t start falling until the first one starts falling, but there are so many deals in the air right now that if you’re going to redo trade negotiations, you’ve got to have a beginning point," Lankford said.

Agriculture has been one of the hardest hit industries following Trump's tariffs.