It was a tactic that worked: Trump announced that the rates would be postponed until December 15.
Trump insists that it is a step back in the midst of an exhausting trade war that will eventually benefit Americans – and that will demonstrate its harshness towards China. And as markets flew Tuesday, earnings were erased a day later, as new fears of an impending recession were needed.
He relies on a team that often disagrees and has undergone many changes in recent months. Trump finds himself now less and less surrounded by those who have guided the economic policy of his administration during his first two and a half years, while concern over a recession grows inside the United States. west wing.
Trump and his campaign rely on a strong economy to get him re-elected. Voters who approve of Trump's work say that the first reason is economics.
Re-elected, Trump has touted the recent performance of the stock market during an election campaign in New Hampshire on Thursday night, where he claimed that even Americans who do not like it do not have a chance to win. have "no choice but to vote for him". otherwise the economy will collapse.
"You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401 (k), everything will be put on the back burner," he told the crowd. "Whether you like me or you hate me, you have to vote for me."
Evolving economic team
The importance of economics for his political future has long been an underlying theme of Trump's discussions with his team, say people familiar with the conversations, even as the composition of this team evolved with the weather.
Its chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, who is approaching two years, is expected to step down in the coming months. His main economist, Kevin Hassett, left with the promise of being "a resource … from the outside". He has received complaints from assistants against the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, according to officials.
Trump even criticized one of his most loyal cabinet secretaries, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for stalling trade talks with China, officials said. Mnuchin is in the grip of his own exodus to the Treasury Department. Several senior staff have left in recent months.
Since then, Trump has turned to more intransigent collaborators such as Peter Navarro, the uncompromising commercial and manufacturing advisor, who defends his tough positions in China and assures him that there will be an economic rebound.
Trump has shown an affinity for his collaborators with an eye on the political implications of economic decisions rather than a thorough knowledge of economic policy, the citizens said. He also became annoyed at the briefings when the discussion became too technical or in the weeds.
Mnuchin, who led the fundraising operation for the Trump campaign, remains the president's closest advisor on economic issues, according to people familiar with the team's momentum, even as Trump complains of the lack of progress in trade negotiations overseen by Mnuchin.
This is partly because of its longevity within the administration, people said. But Trump also sees his success in the private sector as an implicit testimony to his economic advice.
When he was looking for a replacement for Gary Cohn, his first director of the National Economic and Social Council, he had been taken away by Kudlow, a pundit who was then defending Trump's position on television.
Trump also praised Navarro for his sometimes combative television appearances in defense of tariffs, including this week.
A team sometimes disagrees
Trump spends the week on his Bedminster golf course, but his business team is scattered elsewhere. Navarro is in Washington and Ross in New York. Mick Mulvaney, the former budget chief turned interim chief of staff, joined Trump in New Jersey.
Trump's chief economic advisor, the acting chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Tomas Philipson, has been in the leading position for only a few weeks after Hassett's departure, which has often defended the government's position on the issue. television. Hassett's departure was perceived as creating a vacuum for those responsible for explaining the White House's economic policy, said a White House official.
And Mnuchin works from Washington but has remained largely out of public view. He took part in a phone call between Trump and the CEOs of JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup on Wednesday, as markets collapsed amid fears of recession.
Navarro instead defended the position of the administration in public throughout the week. Resisting China, he frequently opposed more general views of economic policy in government debates and ran into Mnuchin during trade talks with China.
On the air, Navarro has amplified Trump's position that market fears are the fault of the Federal Reserve, which, according to Trump and Navarro, do not reduce interest rates fast enough.
This is not a universally shared opinion in the West Wing, where many economic aides privately recognize that current trade wars are more to blame than any other for current economic conditions. But in conversations, most White House officials still cite the Fed as a contributing factor, knowing that it's the president's opinion.
The White House plans to call Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, on some Sunday morning broadcasts to better explain the position of the administration. And Vice President Mike Pence will deliver remarks at the Detroit Economic Club next week, outlining the government's economic positions.
A senior administration official said Trump was in regular contact with members of his economic team – including Kudlow, Mnuchin and the trade representative Robert Lighthizer – since his New Jersey work vacation this week.
Fears of recession?
While some officials have described Trump as upset by the new recession fears that shook the market on Wednesday, others said he did not seem deeply concerned that a slowdown could occur. materialize in the next two years.
Instead, he's more focused on what an economic event of this type – or the imminent appearance that he could have had – could have on his political outlook. He is worried that a worsening trade stalemate could hurt the economy and jeopardize his chances of reelection.
Although Trump's frustration with the markets was mainly with the Federal Reserve, people familiar with the case also said that the team responsible for negotiating a trade deal with China had until now present failed to reach an agreement.
One of these meetings took place last week, as the new tariffs that Trump was threatening to levy on China provoked an outcry among retailers. During these talks, Trump advisers warned that CEOs were willing to disregard tariffs, which were due to come into effect in September and affect popular Christmas gifts such as cell phones and electronic devices.
The counselors appealed to Trump's affinity for the Christmas season, according to familiar people. Trump is touted to gather the crowds, he saved the holiday season from a "politically correct Christmas war".
Trump asked his team to find a way to avoid a backlash in holiday shopping. Advisors recommended that the fees be deferred until December 15, when the products on store shelves have already been shipped.
The decision to delay new tariffs on China came without any concessions from Beijing.
Speaking Wednesday on Fox News, Navarro called Trump's "Christmas gift to the nation."
In the course of his talks, Trump also expressed the hope that this move would divert American-Chinese trade talks, which have been interrupted since his meeting with Xi in June, much to Trump's frustration.
But that does not seem to have happened. On Thursday, China threatened retaliation if the US imposed new tariffs on Chinese-made goods worth $ 300 billion. A statement from the Ministry of Finance did not mention the delay.
Pamela Brown from CNN contributed to this report.