Mnuchin: Trump's 'as determined as ever' on China trade fight

Mnuchin: Trump's 'as determined as ever' on China trade fight
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Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTop economic adviser warned Trump on reelection chances ahead of China truce: report The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE said Sunday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE is “as determined as ever” in the ongoing trade war with China after Trump suggested he had regrets about escalating the standoff in comments the White House insists were misinterpreted.

“The president is determined to have fair and reciprocal trade,” Mnuchin, speaking from the Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in France, told Fox’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceWhite House officials work to tamp down controversies after a tumultuous week Sunday shows — Mulvaney seeks to tamp down firestorm over quid pro quo comments, Doral decision Mulvaney says he thinks Trump knows people thought Doral decision looked 'lousy' MORE on “Fox News Sunday.” “He’s as determined as ever on this issue, he wants a good deal.”

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“Yeah, sure. Why not?" Trump said earlier Sunday on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, when asked by reporters if he had any second thoughts about escalating the trade war with China.

"Might as well. Might as well," Trump said when pressed again on whether he had second thoughts. “I have second thoughts about everything.

The White House has since stressed that Trump meant he “regrets not raising the tariffs higher.”

Wallace also pressed Mnuchin on a series of tweets in which Trump said U.S. companies are “hereby ordered” not to do business with China.

Trump has claimed he is authorized to give such an order under the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977, but Wallace noted the powers granted by that law only apply to future investments rather than existing ones, have only been used against entities such as rogue nations and drug kingpins, and require a formal emergency declaration.

Mnuchin demurred on whether Trump intended to take the further step of declaring an emergency, telling Wallace that the president "has lots of options… our first choice is to have fair and reciprocal trade.”

Asked if Trump intends to go through with the next round of Chinese tariffs, scheduled to take effect September 1, Mnuchin responded: “Absolutely, and to the extent that the Chinese respond again you can assume that the president will consider all his options.”

The Treasury secretary also echoed White House economic advisors Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan KudlowMORE and Peter Navarro in downplaying fears of a pending recession, telling Wallace, “We don’t see a recession on the horizon,” and attributing the inversion of the yield curve, which has frequently been a historical predictor of recessions, to actions by the Federal Reserve.