White House says Trump pressing forward amid escalation of China trade war

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE's economic advisers and allies on Sunday defended the trade war with China as necessary and beneficial to the U.S. after a week of mounting tensions.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinFinancial trade tax gains traction with 2020 Democrats Hillicon Valley: Agencies play catch-up over TikTok security concerns | Senate Dems seek sanctions on Russia over new election meddling | Pentagon unveils AI principles Senate Democrats urge Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russia for election interference MORE told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump remained “as determined as ever” in the trade war.

The president earlier seemed to indicate he regretted escalating the trade war with Beijing, though the White House quickly pushed back on that interpretation, saying Sunday that Trump regrets not imposing even higher tariffs.


“The president is determined to have fair and reciprocal trade,” Mnuchin told Wallace from the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in France. “He’s as determined as ever on this issue. He wants a good deal.”

Wallace also pressed Mnuchin on a tweet in which Trump said he “hereby order[ed]” U.S. companies to stop doing business in China, which Trump has claimed he has the power to do under the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Wallace noted that the law in question requires a formal emergency declaration and applies only to future investments rather than existing ones. Mnuchin did not say whether Trump had any plans to declare an emergency under the law, telling Wallace the White House "has lots of options" and adding that "our first choice is to have fair and reciprocal trade."

National economic advisor Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan KudlowMORE, meanwhile, downplayed criticism of U.S. tariffs by other world leaders at the G-7 summit, saying a clip of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressing reservations about the tariffs was “out of context.”

Any "little hit from tariffs is being dwarfed by the tax cuts," Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Kudlow continued to dismiss fears of a pending recession, which intensified earlier this month after the inversion of the yield curve, a frequent historical predictor of recessions, telling CBS’s Margaret Brennan that he wanted to “disabuse so much of this recession talk out there. It just ain't so.”

Kudlow made similar comments last weekend to NBC’s Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddTrailing Democrats tout strength with black voters ahead of South Carolina Clyburn says Democrats spent 'too much time on Bloomberg' in Nevada debate The Democratic nominee won't be democratically chosen MORE. When Todd noted that Kudlow made similar comments shortly before the Great Recession began, Kudlow responded, “I plead guilty to that.”

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDemocrats duke it out in most negative debate so far Republicans give Barr vote of confidence Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills MORE (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s most vocal allies in the Senate, also defended the potential burden of the trade war, although he acknowledged its impact on American consumers.

“The Democrats for years have been claiming that China should be stood up to. Now Trump is, and we just got to accept the pain that comes with standing up to China,” Graham said on “Face the Nation.” “How do you get China to change without creating some pain on them and us? I don’t know.”

The trade war would have “some” impact on his constituents in South Carolina, Graham acknowledged, telling Brennan that “consumer prices on commodities are going to go up” as a result of tariffs.

“To my Democratic colleagues, he’s doing the things you’ve been calling for all these years,” Graham added.