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Trump defies close advisers in deciding to threaten Mexico with disruptive tariffs


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The New York Times
SOURCE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-defies-close-advisers-in-deciding-to-threaten-mexico-with-disruptive-tariffs/2019/05/31/d87ae82c-83ba-11e9-bce7-40b4105f7ca0_story.html
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Summary

Roughly 24 hours later, Trump would go public with his latest attempt to stop the migration of Central Americans arriving in record numbers at the southern border, seeking to punish Mexico by gradually increasing tariffs on the entire universe of its goods.This account of Trump’s decision to open a new front in his battles over immigration and trade — and the ensuing fallout — is based on interviews with 14 White House officials, lawmakers, congressional aides and others familiar with the issue, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.The tactic sowed disruption on multiple fronts Friday as top Mexican officials rushed to Washington to defuse the threat, the stock market tumbled on the news and administration officials offered little explanation of how increasing the prices of goods from Mexico would stop illegal immigration at the border, a goal that has eluded multiple administrations.“He’s trying to solve a humanitarian situation by creating economic chaos,” said Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), whose state would be devastated in any trade standoff with Mexico. But privately, top officials were caught in an administration-wide scramble as aides continued to have meetings with Trump on Friday to try to persuade him to reverse course, two officials said.The idea of enacting unilateral tariffs against Mexico had surfaced repeatedly in internal discussions — and seriously enough that the White House Counsel’s Office had already written a draft of the plan when Trump brought up the proposal again Wednesday, officials said. The arguments against the tariffs — voiced internally by Kushner, Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — did little to dissuade Trump, and Kushner was asked to call Mexican officials to inform them of the impending threat.After the Wednesday night meeting in the Oval Office, the tariff order was finalized by the White House counsel and the office of Stephen Miller, a senior White House adviser and immigration hard-liner who oversees domestic policy.

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