WASHINGTON — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Sunday that he has no reason to believe President Donald Trump will reverse his controversial tariff announcement this week, but left room for the often unpredictable president to change his mind.
“Whatever his final decision is, is what will happen,” Ross said on NBC's “Meet The Press.” “What he has said he has said; if he says something different, it'll be something different.”
“The president has announced that this will happen this week. I have no reason to think otherwise," Ross added.
Trump announced a plan Thursday to impose a tariff of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum, which sent the stock market into a tumble and sparked fierce pushback from numerous Republicans in Congress amid international fears over a trade war.
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Some United States trading partners have threatened retaliation, but Ross indicated that wasn't a concern. He did not say whether any nations could get an exception.
"Retaliation isn't going to change the price of a can of beer," he said. "It isn't going to change the price of a car. It's just not going to."
Beer producers, like MillerCoors, have disputed the administration's claims that consumers will not be negatively affected. The company said on Twitter that the move "is likely to lead to job losses across the beer industry."
NBC News reported that the president’s decision to impose tariffs last week was made amid an already tumultuous period at the White House and his simmering anger over other issues, including the impending departure of his close aide, Hope Hicks, as White House communications director, frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the treatment of his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
The tariff decision was announced without any kind of internal review by government lawyers, according to internal White House documents, and without notification of the State Department, the Treasury Department or the Defense Department.
Leading members of Congress, including some of Trump’s key legislative allies, were also not consulted ahead of the announcement, including Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said Sunday on "Meet The Press" that he was concerned that the White House had announced such a change without considering all of the potential consequences.
"You want to do these kinds of things with a scalpel, not a chainsaw," King said, adding that worries him is that the president announced the tariffs "on the whole world in the name of national security."
"I don't think we need to block Canadian steel in the name of national security," King said. "They're annoying, but you know, they’re nice. They're too nice. But we don't fear a war with Canada."
Ross on Sunday defended the administration’s timing, repeating that imposing tariffs were a key campaign promise of Trump in 2016.
"It wasn't sudden," he said. "The president, ever since the campaign, has said he's going to do something to fix steel and aluminum. Almost a year ago, he commissioned the Commerce Department to do the studies on steel and aluminum. They've been through any number of interagency reviews before they were released to the public. So with a whole year of preparation, I don't know why anybody should've been so shocked."