GOP senator: Trump used tariffs 'brilliantly' in Mexico negotiations

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senators divided over approach to election security Democrats make U-turn on calling border a 'manufactured crisis' GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers MORE (R-Wis.) said Sunday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Joint Chiefs chairman: 'The last thing in the world we need right now is a war with Iran' Pence: 'We're not convinced' downing of drone was 'authorized at the highest levels' Trump: Bolton would take on the whole world at one time MORE used the threat of tariffs on Mexican goods as leverage “brilliantly” in recent negotiations aimed at reducing illegal immigration.

Johnson, the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, demurred when asked on “Fox News Sunday” if Trump would have faced a revolt from Republican senators had proposed 5 percent tariffs gone into effect.

“I think the caucus definitely supports tariffs as leverage to get our trading partners to treat us fairly with reciprocal treatment,” Johnson said.

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Johnson added that while he was concerned about a slowdown in hiring in May and believed tariffs to be a “tax on consumers,” he had talked to numerous constituents who said that they supported Trump’s trade policies, regarding both Mexico and China, despite "short-term pain."

“We’ve got to conclude these trade deals so we can bring the certainty back to the economy that the president provided,” Johnson told Fox News’s Bret Baier.

On Friday, Trump announced the 5 percent tariffs, which were set to take effect June 10 and incrementally increase until reaching 25 percent, would not go into effect due to concessions secured from Mexico on border security.

On Saturday, The New York Times reported some of the concessions had previously been reached in March.

Several Trump allies had previously warned of potential fallout from the tariffs had they gone into effect, with Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerMcSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' Hillicon Valley: Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency plans | FTC reportedly investigating YouTube over children's privacy | GOP senator riles tech with bill targeting liability shield | FAA pushed to approve drone deliveries Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats MORE (R-Colo.), one of the most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in 2020, saying last week that they could wipe out any economic gains from 2017 Republican-passed tax reform.