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Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson warned Trump about trade war: report

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As a trade dispute between the US and China grew increasingly bitter in August, billionaire casino magnate and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson reportedly warned President Donald Trump about how tariffs might affect the economy and his reelection prospects.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Adelson called Trump after a series of rapid escalations between the largest economies on August 23. Trump increased tariffs on China that day and said issued a legally dubious order against US companies that did business there, setting off a sharp sell-off in financial markets.

Sheldon visited the White House days before that phone call to deliver to Trump a similar message, the Journal reported, though it was less urgent at the time.

Adelson and his wife, Miriam, shelled out $123 million to Republican candidates and causes in the 2018 midterms alone. The two have been among the most generous Trump backers, donating at least $20 million to his 2016 campaign.

Backlash has mounted as tariffs began to put businesses and households more directly at risk, with recent polls suggesting a majority of Americans would blame the president’s trade policies in the event of a downturn. Republican lawmakers this year spearheaded a bill that would curb presidential tariff powers, though they didn’t president by name.

Read more: China cancels plans to visit with US farmers next week

Trump has acknowledged for the first time that tariffs could hurt the economy at home. But he maintained that they were necessary to win fairer trade deals, a view has found support among other influential Republicans.

“I kind of have come to recognize these tariffs are his way of forcing the Chinese to come to the table,” David McCintosh, the president of conservative advocacy group Club for Growth, said in an interview with NBC last month. “They are costly and we want them to go away, but he’s using them to get to that ultimate goal of zero tariffs.”

The White House did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

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