If you thought President Donald Trump was great in 2017, you ain’t seen nothing yet: wait until Trump 2018, a report from Axios’s Mike Allen on Friday morning argues.
Citing multiple sources who have met or spoken recently with the president, Allen reports that those in the know in Washington should expect the “full Trump” in 2018—the president’s upcoming second year.
“If you ask some close to President Trump what worries them most about 2018, it’s not Robert Mueller’s probe,” Allen writes under a headline saying to expect Trump to be “unchained” in 2018. “It’s that establishment guardrails of 2017 come down — and Trump’s actual instincts take over.”
“Next year will bring ‘full Trump,’ said one person who recently talked to the president,” Allen adds.
Allen notes that most of Trump’s major 2017 achievements could have been made by any old traditional Republican, from the tax cuts plan to Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and cutting regulations.
“Most of those in his current decision-making circle — even if they’re not mainstream Republicans — are defending mainstream Republican principles like free trade and an internationalist view of foreign policy,” Allen writes. “But top officials paint a different portrait of Trump when it comes to what he really wants on trade, immigration and North Korea — but has been tamped down by skeptical staff and Cabinet officials.”
Privately, Trump is throwing down entirely with the economic nationalist roots of his presidency.
“Trump keeps asking for tariffs — on steel and aluminum, in particular,” Allen writes. “He wants a trade war, and has for many years. His economic and diplomatic advisers persuaded him to delay trade actions in 2017.”
And while 2017 was defined by behind-the-scenes who’s up, who’s down power struggles in the administration and West Wing over which policies would win out, Allen notes that 2018 seems to be heading in the direction of a place where it doesn’t matter which measly globalist advisers are riding high at any given moment.
“Those advisers recognize that the day of reckoning will come in 2018, regardless of whether economic adviser Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — who advocated restraint — stay or go,” Allen writes.
Allen specifically pointed to a couple of recent Trump comments—one via Twitter and the other via his New York Times interview—on China, where the president ripped China on trade and North Korea.
“China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war. O.K.?” Trump told the New York Times.
On Twitter, he wrote:
Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2017
Allen says that Trump has trade actions planned next month, too, something that other reports indicate are splitting Trump from GOP leaders. A recent headline in the Hill newspaper read, “GOP frustration rises with Trump on trade.”
The piece from Alex Bolton quotes several Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who raise concerns with President Trump and his administration’s efforts to put America first on trade.
But Allen notes that while Trump may have delayed acting on some of his economic nationalist instincts in 2017 to appease advisers’ demands, expect him to move forward with or without the useless advisers in 2018.
“Look for Trump to take action on trade in the next month. It probably won’t be next week, so as not to disrupt the afterglow of the tax cut. But nothing is final,” Allen writes, adding, “Trump still wants his wall, and tighter restrictions on legal immigration. He’s a true believer on this stuff, and knows intuitively that it keeps his base stoked.”