Well it turns out that no one knew what Trump was going to do on Thursday when he rattled global markets and infuriated America’s trade partners by announcing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Of course all you really needed to do to understand that this was yet another example of Trump flying off the handle was look at the sequence of headlines. Recall how this played out yesterday:
- 8:53: TRUMP IS SAID TO ANNOUNCE TARIFFS AT MORNING MEETING: CNBC
- 10:42: CNBC: TRUMP EVENT AT 11AM WILL BE ON TRADE, NOT TARIFFS
- 12:30: TRUMP SAYS 10% TARIFF FOR ALUMINUM; TRUMP SAYS 25% TARIFFS FOR STEEL
Clearly, Trump simply went rogue as he’s prone to do and just like all the other times he’s come unglued and made a rash decision with global implications without coordinating with his aides, lawyers, and cabinet, he doubled down on Twitter the next morning in an effort to try and make it seem as though he hadn’t made a mistake.
On Friday afternoon, NBC is out reporting that according to an internal White House document, “Trump’s policy maneuver was announced without any review by government lawyers or his own staff.” To wit:
According to two officials, Trump’s decision to launch a potential trade war was born out of anger at other simmering issues and the result of a broken internal process that has failed to deliver him consensus views that represent the best advice of his team.
On Wednesday evening, the president became “unglued,” in the words of one official familiar with the president’s state of mind.
A trifecta of events had set him off in a way that two officials said they had not seen before: Hope Hicks’ testimony to lawmakers investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, conduct by his embattled attorney general and the treatment of his son-in-law by his chief of staff.
Trump, the two officials said, was angry and gunning for a fight, and he chose a trade war, spurred on by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, the White House director for trade.
Yes sir, that’s what you want!
You want the President of the United States losing his mind on a random Wednesday evening after i) one of his closest confidants testified about collusion with a hostile foreign power, ii) his Chief of Staff cracked down his son-in-law who is under investigation for all manner of possible shenanigans, and iii) his Attorney General suggested that the DoJ will no longer sit idly by as the Oval Office attempts to bully them into conducting baseless investigations into political rivals.
And you certainly want to discover that the President’s mental breakdowns are being used against him by the likes of Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro who, in case you might have forgotten, is all kinds of crazy himself.
According to NBC, Ross had already invited steel and aluminum executives to the White House by the time Trump lost his shit, but Wilbur didn’t tell the White House who those executives were. So, they were not vetted and they were not cleared by the Secret Service and apparently, John Kelly was kept in the dark about who they were as well.
But it gets worse. “There were no prepared, approved remarks for the president to give at the planned meeting, there was no diplomatic strategy for how to alert foreign trade partners, there was no legislative strategy in place for informing Congress and no agreed upon communications plan beyond an email cobbled together by Ross’s team at the Commerce Department late Wednesday that had not been approved by the White House,” NBC goes on to report, before adding that “no one at the State Department, the Treasury Department or the Defense Department had been told that a new policy was about to be announced or given an opportunity to weigh in in advance.”
This is what it’s come to folks. This is what counts as “governing.” Trump’s advisers are taking advantage of his ignorance and instability to push their own agenda with no regard whatsoever for the consequences of effectively lighting the fuse on a live bomb (Trump) and lobbing it into the void.
Not only were Congress, State, DoD, and Treasury left out of this, even the White House itself outside of Trump, Ross, and Navarro was kept in the dark.
Bear in mind: this is the guy with the fucking launch codes.