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Trump Downplays Loss of Economic Advisor While Signaling He May Tweak Tariffs

03-07-2018
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The president has lost Gary Cohn, his top economic policymaker, who resigned Tuesday. That has his critics forecasting gloom and doom.

But even before Cohn left, the president maintained he always has plenty of options for open positions in his administration.

"So many people want to come in, I have a choice of anybody. I could take any position in the White House and I'll have the choice of the 10 top people having to do with that position. Everybody wants to be there," he said earlier.

Cohn is a former Wall Street executive who played a key role in helping the president achieve his tax overhaul plan.

But Cohn also fought the president on his plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum coming into the country. It's a battle he lost.

The top candidates to replace Cohn are White House trade advisor Peter Navarro and CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow. Navarro has promoted the tariffs, arguing they're the only way to save the US aluminum and steel industries. Kudlow has raised concerns that tariffs will raise prices and hit other sectors of the economy.

The tariff issue could also spill over into politics amid concerns that tariffs could harm the economy and that could be a problem for Republicans in this year's mid-term elections. The GOP wants to campaign on strong economic footing.

Meanwhile, Canada, the UK and the European Union oppose the tariffs with the EU threatening counter measures if they go into effect.

On Tuesday, the president hinted at some flexibility, possibly avoiding tariffs on Canada and Mexico. On Monday, he tweeted "tariffs on steel and aluminum will only come off if new and fair NAFTA agreement is signed."

Many Republicans are hoping for a compromise but it appears that the president is serious about imposing at least some tariffs in the days ahead.

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