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

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonBattle brewing on coronavirus relief oversight Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads MORE (R-Wis.) said Sunday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpProgressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters Ilhan Omar: GOP response to calls for police reform 'was vicious' White House considers sweeping travel ban on members, families of the Chinese Communist Party: report 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 GardnerHickenlooper reports record fundraising haul in Colorado Senate bid Trump hits road to ignite stalled campaign The four China strategies Trump or Biden will need to consider 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.