Trump announced a major policy shift that caused international ripples, including a rebuke from a top U.S. ally, while trying to get rid of bad headlines about his failing administration.
Faced with a pile-up of headlines that embarrassed him around the world, Trump made an out-of-nowhere announcement about his intention to introduce tariffs on various materials.
The self-described “very stable genius” once again threw the world into a state of chaos.
In the official White House schedule sent out to the press detailing his plans, there had been no mention of a tariff announcement. But Trump commandeered reporters and told them he wanted to put tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
The decision was so unexpected that nobody told his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill it was coming. Traditionally presidents advise their own party, and sometimes even the opposition party, when they plan to impact the global economy in such a major way.
The hastily arranged statement came just hours after communications director Hope Hicks revealed she would be the latest in a long line of senior White House staffers to leave, which followed Hicks confession in front of a Congressional panel that she has told “white lies” on Trump’s behalf.
Other recent bad news for Trump included the decision to strip Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner of his security clearance, and strong criticism regarding his response to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.
Things haven’t been going well, and the tariff announcement has simply added to the chaos.
Axios noted that the decision was made in the midst of a “complete breakdown in White House process,” with Trump overruling those in his administration who oppose tariffs.
Asked about the decision in the White House press briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was tight-lipped, and would only indicate that details about the tariffs will be announced in the future.
Such tariffs would have a major impact on billions of dollars’ worth of trade.
The Dow Jones average dropped almost 600 points as the news was released. The S&P 500 dropped 1.1 percent as well.
Timothy Fiore, chairman of the Institute for Supply Management’s factory survey committee called the announcement a “big, big mistake,” adding, “It is going to add so much disruption and cost here.”
The decision could spark a trade war between the United States and other nations, like China. Trump is classifying the tariffs as a national security issue, which prompted backlash from Canada.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, slammed the announcement and said it was ” entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat.”
Republicans have historically espoused the conservative line against tariffs (though Republican presidents have used them), and senators like Ben Sasse (R-NE), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) slammed the frenzied announcement.
The multiple controversies plaguing Trump aren’t going away. But his decision to throw international and financial policy into the maelstrom is another erratic move designed to make his life easier.
Instead, the world is reacting negatively, and he is still stuck in a mess of his own making.