While it's true President Trump has talked about imposing tariffs as part of his "Make America Great Again" worldview, the decision totook many in the White House by surprise, Margaret Brennan reports. The president had been urged by top economic adviser Gary Cohn and national security officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to wait while the economic team continued to examine the implications of such a decision. Brennan was told that Mr. Trump simply "ran out of patience" with the delays and decided to make the call.
Initially, the plan had been for the White House to meet with a high-level contingent of Chinese officials who had flown in from Beijing to be briefed on Mr. Trump's impending steel and aluminum decision. Gary Cohn, who heads the National Economic Council, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were scheduled to brief Chinese officials on the matter Thursday after the president's meeting with industry CEOs. Liu He - Xi Jinping's top economic policymaker – was at the White House for the meeting. However, before that notification could take place, the president informed the press of his decision and, for the first time, publicly announced the 10 percent and 25 percent rates. Republican allies on Capitol Hill had not been given prior notice.
The president himself noted that the details of the tariffs are still being written, and he said that he plans to sign off on them next week.