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Trump's massive tariff announcement is twisting the political world in knots

13 March 2018

Republicans worked for days both behind the scenes and with public pleas to try to get Trump to back down, or significantly curtail, his threat of tariffs.

Trump announced late last week that he would slap a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. "I look forward to working with the administration to make sure that our trade policy focuses on curbing abusive behavior and protecting our interests here at home without harming America's economic security", he said in a statement.

"I am pleased that the president has listened to those who share my concerns and included an exemption for some American allies, but it should go further", Ryan said. "But that's not to say it will stay that way".

The next presidential election is still more than two years away, and despite a strong economy, President Trump could see a primary challenge coming from a member of his own party looking to unseat the commander in chief.

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He added: "I also think that there will be an independent challenge, particularly if the Democrats insist on putting somebody up from the far left of the party".

The interview ended before Todd had a chance to ask Flake whether he meant to be that 2020 challenger.

Ryan urged Trump to be more "surgical", while McConnell noted on Tuesday that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had been a "winner" for his state.

In the Senate, Republicans are opposing the duties en masse, with Senator Jeff Flake already preparing a bill to "nullify these tariffs". "The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains".

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Instead, Flake says "we have to have" more free trade and should have remained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal, which Trump pulled the USA out of. "People may not like how Pres Trump rolled these out, but I applaud him for trying".

Just a few months after he helped drive Trump's landmark tax reform through Congress, Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, expressed astonishment at the president's decision.

Meanwhile, Trump's Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was pressed repeatedly by "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd who Trump attacked as a "sleeping son of a b--h" to respond to Trump's comments at the rally but brushed them off.

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Trump's massive tariff announcement is twisting the political world in knots