The good news for the White House: Trump’s bizarre push for gun control at Wednesday’s meeting with congressional leaders probably won’t get much airtime today. The bad news: That’s because most of the airtime will be devoted to his new job-killing tariffs on steel and aluminum. Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, POTUS’s two most protectionist advisors (and maybe only protectionist advisors), are flooding the zone on this morning’s Sunday shows to sell the decision. Navarro is the lead guest on “Face the Nation,” “State of the Union,” and “Fox News Sunday” while Ross is set for “This Week” and “Meet the Press,” covering all five programs between them. I’m excited to hear from Ross about which other tariff-generated price hikes on everyday items are “no big deal.” All you need to do to avoid the tax completely is not buy anything that has steel or aluminum in it.
As for Navarro, his renewed influence in the West Wing is one of the many unintended consequences of Rob Porter having possibly once given his ex-wife a black eye:
Shortly before he resigned amid domestic abuse allegations, White House staff secretary Rob Porter got into a heated argument about the tariffs with Navarro in the Oval Office in front of the president, according to a person familiar with the issue.
Cohn and Porter had worked together for months to try to postpone, kill or narrow the scope of the tariffs. Porter organized weekly trade meetings at the White House to discuss the tariffs and other main issues in a bid to give the debate a more formal structure.
But Porter’s resignation removed a fierce opponent of the tariffs from the West Wing and revived the chaotic policy review process that defined the early weeks of Trump’s presidency.
Navarro’s just getting warmed up. His pet project is a trade war with China, which is largely unaffected by the new steel and aluminum tariffs. Tariffs on Chinese goods are next, assuming his influence with Trump isn’t quickly scaled back.
There’ll be some gun talk too this morning, with outspoken gun-grabber Chris Murphy appearing on “This Week,” and some office politics about the West Wing via Reince Priebus, who’ll follow Murphy on that show. One other guest to look out for — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — is John Kasich, a man who’s defined now by his opposition to Trump but who governs a Rust Belt state where voters might appreciate a little protectionism on the steel industry’s behalf. Where does Kasich, a man thinking of a 2020 run, come down on the tariffs? He’ll discuss on “State of the Union.” The full line-up is at the AP.