Trump takes aim at media after 'hereby' ordering US businesses out of China

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Giuliani associate Lev Parnas discussed Ukraine with Trump at private dinner: report MORE defended his declaration on Friday that American companies were "hereby ordered" to find alternatives to manufacturing in China, claiming that the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act gave him the power to make such a pronouncement.

Trump took aim at the press for questioning his authority to order businesses out of China, tweeting, "For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. Case closed!"

Trump had previously cited the 1977 act, which gives the president the power to regulate commerce during exceptional international crises, earlier Friday before departing for the Group of Seven summit in France. 

In a string of tweets Friday morning, the president said he was ordering U.S. companies to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” beginning with making their products in the United States.

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“The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” Trump tweeted.

His language drew a swift reaction on social media from those who mocked his formal decree.

Prominent conservative lawyer George Conway tweeted Friday that Trump should be sent to Walter Reed Medical Center and that his Cabinet should declare him unfit to be president following his declaration.

"I hereby order the White House staff to take @realDonaldTrump to Walter Reed, and to convene the cabinet under Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment," he wrote, adding the trending hashtag "#Iherebyorder." The husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is a frequent critic of the president.

A number of news outlets, in turn, published articles employing Trump's formal language to question whether he had the authority to make such a command.

Claude Barfield, an expert in international trade policy at the American Enterprise Institute, told The Hill that Trump doesn’t have any authorities to direct U.S. companies to move their businesses to the United States. He called the tweets a clear example of Trump “popping off” and predicted his advisers would look to do damage control, especially if his remarks negatively impact the stock market.

Jennifer Hillman, a Georgetown University law professor and trade expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told The Washington Post that Trump does not have the power to "duly order" companies out of China, but he does have the authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to prevent future transfers of funds to Beijing.

Hillman added that Trump can make such a move only "if he has first made a lawful declaration that a national emergency exists," noting that Congress could ultimately end the declaration. 

Reuters reported that once Trump has declared such an emergency, the act gives Trump broad powers to stop the activities of individual companies or whole economic sectors.

The outlet noted that past presidents have invoked the law to freeze foreign governments' assets. Still, some experts cautioned that doing so could trigger legal challenges in U.S. courts and risk unintended harm to the economy.

Trump is facing mounting pressure over his ongoing trade war with China, which economists have blamed in part for contributing to the weakening of the global economy and for causing uncertainty that has left the U.S. stock market volatile.