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White House says Trump regrets not raising China tariffs higher



The White House appears to have done some damage control following President Donald Trump’s interactions with reporters during his Sunday morning breakfast with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A member of the press asked Trump if he had reconsidered his decision to raise tariffs on Chinese imports, following his Friday tweets announcing that tariffs on $250 billion of imports would be raised to 30 percent from 25 percent on October 1, and that other tariffs going into effect on September 1 would tax imports at 15 percent rather than 10 percent.

Trump’s tariff increases are the latest escalation of the US trade war with China, which world leaders at this weekend’s G-7 Summit warned “ will lead” to recession, potentially globally.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson attend a working breakfast at the Hotel du Palais on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Associated Press

Trump responded to the question of whether he had second thoughts on his announcement with “Sure. Why not? I have second thoughts about everything.”

But just hours later, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that answer had been “greatly misinterpreted,” and added that “President Trump responded in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.”

The dissonance between the two follows the similarly chaotic path of Trump’s weekend soundbites, which started with him threatening to tax French wine if French President Emmanuel Macron moved ahead with taxing US tech companies, as the president left Washington, D.C. for Biarritz, France, where the Group of 7 Summit is being held.

Read more: Leaders at the G7 summit made power moves, traded barbs, and threatened tariffs in a ‘difficult test of the unity and solidarity of the free world’

Trump also told reporters that he has “the right to” declare a national emergency over the trade war with China after he tweeted that US companies should stop doing business with the country.

The increased tariffs have sent stocks and government bonds tumbling, worrying some economists that a recession is on its way. Trump has denounced those fears but has been on the fence about how his decision-making is affecting the rest of the world.

“I think they respect the trade war,” Trump said to reporters of other world leaders, despite some of their condemnations of it, after the opening dinner of the G-7 Summit. “Nobody has told me that, and nobody would tell me that.”

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