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Amid GOP pushback, Trump says he's 'not backing down' on tariffs

The president dismissed concerns from members of his own party about the economic impact of the move. "I don't think we'll have a trade war," he said.
by Ali Vitali /  / Updated 

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump had a message for Hill Republicans unhappy with his new trade policy: Get used to it.

Asked about pushback from House Speaker Paul Ryan and congressional GOP leadership, who have ramped up their battle against the president's surprise announcement last week of new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, Trump told reporters Monday that "we're not backing down."

Trump has openly sparred with members of his own party over the move. “We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan," Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said Monday. "The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”

The president dismissed those concerns. "I don’t think we’ll have a trade war," he said.

Trump's comments came during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which the president pledged to attend the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem later this year "if I can."

The meeting came at a precarious political moment for both men, facing headaches rooted in continuing investigations in their own countries. Netanyahu’s White House visit Monday came as one of his former spokesmen signed a witness deal in one of the corruption cases involving the four-term prime minister.

The decision in December to move the embassy made good on a long-standing Trump campaign promise, but riled the international community and derailed the administration's hopes for brokering a peace deal between Palestine and Israel. But the president said Monday he still thinks there's a "very good chance" for peace — not in spite of, but because of his decision to move the embassy.

Monday's event was intended to highlight the president's decision, with Trump saying the new facility in Jerusalem would be built "very quickly" and "very inexpensively," estimating construction costs for what a State Department spokeswoman said would be an "interim embassy" at $250,000. Initially, Trump said, costs were around $1 billion, but he asked, "What's that for?" and somehow brought costs down. "Is that good?" he said rhetorically to reporters and Netanyahu.

Over decades, Trump said, "nobody could get past No. 1: Jerusalem. We've taken it off the table." That gives "a real opportunity" for peace, he said, adding that he believes the Palestinians want to "come back to the table" for negotiations.

It is still "the hardest deal to make of any deal," the president allowed, but added that peace "would be a great thing for the world," for America, "for everybody."

"We have a shot at doing it," he said.

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