Listen: China Trade Talks Shaped By President Trump's Divided Advisers
"Trade Representative Robert lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed that those tariffs will take affect this Friday, if the Chinese backtrack from trade commitments, although the White House appears to be a United front in this moment NPR and the PBS show frontline found that top administration officials spent more than a year deeply divided on this issue top advisors fought bitterly over over. Whether tariffs would help the US economy or devastated, here's NPR's. Laura Sullivan, Steve Bannon, President Trump's former chief strategist I met the president in two thousand ten while get invited up to a meeting by getting day Vaasie. Says Donald Trump wants to meet and talk about running for president. And I said what country but a few days later. Bannon went and found he and Trump had something important in common shared belief that China pose a grave danger to the United States that he didn't know details he knew almost no policy, but what I found. Most extraordinary was when we got to the section on China, which kind of threw out there of a two hour meeting almost thirty minutes or more was all about China. Trump has railed against China and the US trade deficit for more than two decades. In television, interviews, he said tariffs would revive manufacturing jobs by the time. He hit the campaign trail Trump had found his audience, we can't continue to allow China to rape our country. And that's what they're doing in watched from the back when he started talking about trade. He started talking about China these working class people lean forward. No, other Republican talk like this. When Trump was elected. He assembled a team of advisers to focus on China pulling in people like Gary Cohn from gold. And sacks a hawkish economists named Peter Navarro his US Trade Representative Robert lighthizer an army general H, R McMaster who became his national security adviser. But this group of advisers quickly splintered deadlocked over whether tariffs would bring China to heal or send the world's two largest economies into turmoil. They broke into two camps the globalist versus the nationalists. Gary Cohn was Trump's top economic advisor, we agreed on what the fundamental issue was we agreed that the force technology transfer the lack of market access. The copyright infringements was all a huge problem would I think we have different methodologies on is power. We were going to solve that problem. Cohn was a globalist. He and others like HR McMaster believed. Heavy tariffs would hurt the country that the Chinese products Americans by will become more expensive business growth would slow. They wanted to partner with other countries to. Confront China with our full alliances nationalist like Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro the economists wanted to us tariffs to force China to the table to end longstanding issues of theft and unfair practices. They believed higher prices on Chinese goods would protect US jobs and bring back manufacturing. Bannon says there was little middle ground. If you take all the other nastiness on the things like the Paris accord and TPP rolling up and put it to the factor. Ten they don't compare to these weekly nasty trade makes there was a blob in the Oval Office Peter pulls at one of his charts, which the president loves next thing. You know, we have this big blow we have to exit and go back into the Roosevelt room Gary Cohn remembers it, well, he says Bannon Navarra were not bringing actual data to the meetings from time to time there were people that try to use unfort- noted undocumented facts cone says there were a lot of pictures and infographics whiteboard with giant pie charts. That's my job to get rid of the undocumented on foot noted facts. And make sure that those don't enter the Oval Office talking about Peter Navarro's charts. Yes, I'm talking about Peter Navarro's charts Navarro declined NPR's request for an interview HR McMaster said everyone in the room was concerned from the beginning about the economic threat China posed potential between the two men is clearly still high the prisoners is were wide open. And so were all the members of his cabinet all of you universally felt that China was a threat in a problem. That's correct. That's total incomplete lie. Bannon says he McMaster were never on the same page. I fought that guy every day. I don't wanna hear his nonsense now that he realizes he was on the wrong side of the history. If he said that he's a stone cold liar by the end of two thousand seventeen the discord was seeping well outside the White House. Susan Thornton was acting assistant secretary of state for East, Asian and Pacific affairs and served under ten secretaries. She said it was one of the most difficult assignments of her career trying to present a strong unified front to the Chinese you. Can't have this team. That's fighting with it self. That's a big disadvantage for us. Frankly, do think China was aware that there were different sides arguing yes, they were having fights in front of the Chinese delegation, which is like the cardinal sin of negotiating makes it look like your delegation doesn't know what it's doing. And that the leader of the delegation doesn't have sufficient authority to negotiate. Bannon says it doesn't matter if the Chinese new top officials were at odds he intended to win we came loaded. The most intense fights and debates in the White House were about this issue of terrorist. But tariffs as a proxy to the great economic war China that we're engaging for Bannon Navarro, and the nationalist it paid off in March two thousand eighteen Trump called stealing aluminum executives from around the country to the White House. We have with us the biggest deal companies in the finance tariffs on steel. Dylan, aluminum and six months later imposed additional tariffs on two hundred billion and Chinese goods cone accepted defeat. Did I feel like I had represented the non-tariff side of the equation for many people in the White House that didn't want terrorists. Well, I did. I felt like I give it my best effort, but he says, the White House globalist aren't the only ones who lost who I think lost was the United States consumer someone's paying terrif- whoever's paying the tariff is the looser for every dollar of tariff. It's collected. It's coming out of disposable income of the United States. Consumer today cone left the White House less than a week after the steel meeting and in the weeks and months that followed HR McMaster left his job, Susan Thornton left, her post at the State Department, and Steve Bannon had already resigned, but the administration is forging ahead with the nationalist agenda. Economists say it's too soon to know the impact of the tariffs. But they haven't lowered the trade. Deficit as Trump wanted in March the deficit with China was at a record high. Bannon says those are narrow outcomes he and the other nationalists are thinking bigger, I think the goal into China's quite simply to break the back of this totalitarian mercantilist economic society. So it's definitely us versus them. And I don't think is a doubt about that. Cone says that goal could turn an economic problem into something even more serious China is a superpower China has one point four billion people. That's a fact if we really become isolationist than China becomes 'isolation est. That seems to me like you're trying to set up a conflict trade talks are expected to continue this"