White House: Trump's only regret about trade war is not implementing higher tariffs on China

The White House on Sunday sought to clarify President TrumpDonald John TrumpSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration Trump is failing on trade policy Trump holds call with Netanyahu to discuss possible US-Israel defense treaty MORE's remarks on whether he has any regrets about escalating a trade war with China, saying that the president's comment was "greatly misinterpreted."

"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'" White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamWhite House dismisses 'ridiculous' criticism of Melania Trump's coat on 9/11 GOP lawmaker calls for investigation into CNN spy story White House slams judge's decision to reimpose block on asylum ban MORE said in a statement. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

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The statement was issued shortly after Trump was asked about the longstanding trade dispute between his administration and Beijing at the Group of 7 summit in Biarritz, France. 

When asked by reporters if he had any second thoughts about escalating the trade war with China, Trump responded, "yeah, sure, why not?"

“Might as well, might as well" he added, prompting a reporter to ask again if he had "second thoughts about escalating the war with China?"

"I have second thoughts about everything," he said, before adding that U.S. allies have respected the trade dispute with China. He then reiterated an argument he's repeatedly made amid the conflict, saying that it's "outrageous that presidents and administrations allowed [China] to get away with taking hundreds of billions of dollars out every year, putting it into China.”

The remarks from Trump came after a tumultuous week that ignited deeper concerns about the state of the economy and the trade dispute between the U.S. and China. U.S. stock markets tumbled on Friday after Trump called for U.S. companies to stop doing business with China. 

“We don’t need China,” Trump tweeted after Beijing announced it would impose new tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. automotive parts, farm products and other goods. “This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States," he added.

Trump later said that he was exploring using the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a law that would allow him to declare a national emergency related to China in order to block U.S. firms from making some transactions in the country. Economic experts have said that Trump does not have the power to order companies to stop doing business with China. But he would have the authority to prevent future transfers of funds to Beijing under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. 

Trump said on Sunday that he has the right to declare a national emergency on China. Though he stated that he has no plans to take that step right now, adding that Beijing was willing to come to the table to make a deal.