Trump aides scramble to contain a trade war

Administration officials started the week with a multi-front scramble as they sought to ease worries about another market-shaking tariff escalation, explain the president’s thinking to allies and salvage negotiations with lawmakers over his signature trade agreement with Mexico and Canada…

The White House plans to send an official to Senate Republicans’ policy lunch on Tuesday to answer questions about the pending Mexico tariffs. Trump’s aides, including members of the White House legislative affairs team, have sought to tamp down frustrations in Congress by separating the issues and encouraging lawmakers to not let their opposition to the tariffs stand in the way of approving the USMCA.

White House officials, who weren’t authorized to speak on the record, said lawmakers haven’t yet told them directly that they intend to hold up the USMCA as a result of the tariff threat, and they maintained outward confidence in the deal’s prospects. “If you put this on the floor, it will pass,” one White House official said.

Some White House aides also privately held out hope that Trump wouldn’t go forward with the tariffs, given the divide inside the administration over the move.