President Donald Trump admitted Sunday he had “second thoughts” about escalating the trade fight with China, but reaffirmed his position that it was the right thing to do.
The exchange with reporters took place during a breakfast meeting with President Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G-7 summit of world leaders:
Q Mr. President, any second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah, sure. Why not?
Q Second thoughts? Yes?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Might as well. Might as well.
Q You have second thoughts about escalating the war with China?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I have second thoughts about everything.
After establishment media ran wild with speculation, the White House issued a statement to clarify the president’s thinking.
“His answer has been greatly misinterpreted,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said. “President Trump responded in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.”
Earlier in the conversation, Trump followed up by defending the fight with China, reassuring the country that talks continued.
“Actually, we’re getting along very well with China right now,” he said. “We’re talking. I think they want to make a deal much more than I do.”
He said the stock market was still doing “great” as a result of his tax and regulations cuts, accusing reporters of rooting for a recession.
“I mean, you people want a recession because you think maybe that’s the way to get Trump out,” he said. “But I don’t even think that would even work, because, look, if there’s anything, it’s, you know, we’ve got to go into trade negotiations to get it right.”
The president on Friday announced higher tariff rates on Chinese goods in response to China’s decision to raise more tariffs on Americans products.
“Starting on October 1st, the 250 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, currently being taxed at 25 percent, will be taxed at 30 percent,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Additionally, the remaining 300 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, that was being taxed from September 1st at 10 percent, will now be taxed at 15 percent.”