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Trump says tariff plan will be "fair" and "flexible" to friendly countries

Trump talks tariffs at Cabinet meeting

President Trump says his administration is going to be "very fair" and "very flexible" to other countries as he is expected to sign imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, despite vocal opposition from his own party and political leaders around the world.

"We're going to protect the American worker as I said I would do in my campaign," Mr. Trump explained during his Cabinet meeting on Thursday. He said that steel and aluminum were the "backbone of our nation" and the "bedrock of our defense and industrial base."

Mr. Trump said if a deal is reached with Canada and Mexico on NAFTA, "Most likely we won't be charging those two countries the tariffs." He also hinted at Australia as possibly being another country that could be exempted from the tariff. 

But the president said he will be sticking to his original 10 and 25 percent tariffs on aluminum and steel, respectively, but said he had the "right" to increase or decrease those rates, as well as add or exempt countries.  "We just want fairness," Mr. Trump said.

During the meeting, which was chief economic adviser Gary Cohn's final Cabinet gathering, Mr. Trump thanked him and referred to him as a "globalist." 

Trump thanks "globalist" Gary Cohn for his White House service

"He's been terrific. He may be a globalist but I still like him. He is seriously a globalist, no question. But in some ways he's a nationalist because he loves our country," joked Mr. Trump. He said Cohn would be going to "go out and make another couple $100 million and then maybe come back" to the White House. 

"I have a feeling you'll be back," said Mr. Trump. He added, "I don't know if I can put him in the same position, he's not quite as strong on those tariffs." Cohn had announced his resignation from his role earlier this week, after urging the president against imposing the tariffs. 

The president also provided an update on the administration's efforts in crafting gun legislation in the wake of the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting. "We are working on commonsense measures to protect the rights of gun owners while keeping guns out of the hands of those who pose a violent threat."

Mr. Trump said the effort to ban bump stock devices was "almost done" but the administration still needs to get through legal work first. He vowed, however "bump stocks are going to be gone."

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