The State Department, the Treasury Department, and the Defense Department did not know Trump would announce steel and aluminum tariffs on Thursday, NBC News reported on Friday afternoon. Trump’s decision appeared motivated by anger at bad publicity engulfing his administration:
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.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appeared on national television today to defend the tariffs, brandishing a beer can and a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. Meanwhile, the president of the European Commission threatened retaliatory measures: tariffs on bourbon whiskey, blue jeans, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
According to The New York Times, at least one corporation has suggested its U.S. operations could be jeopardized by the tariffs:
But in a sign of the potentially adverse effects that Mr. Trump’s plan may have on the American economy, Electrolux, a global maker of household appliances, said on Friday that it would delay a planned $250 million investment to expand and modernize a factory in Tennessee.
Confronted with a plummeting stock market and global ridicule, Trump is back where he started, emotionally speaking. “By Thursday afternoon, the U.S. stock market had fallen and Trump, surrounded by his senior advisers in the Oval Office, was said to be furious,” reported NBC News.