Trump announces steel tariffs will be lifted

President Trump spoke before the National Association of Realtors Friday afternoon, beginning his speech by announcing that the U.S. would be lifting steel and aluminum tariffs.

“We’ve just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico and we’ll be selling our product into those countries without the imposition of tariffs or major tariffs,” Mr. Trump said. He expressed hope that Congress will approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement.

He did, however, say that his increase on tariffs on Chinese products and China’s retaliatory tariffs was “worth it,” to ensure that China would stop cheating the U.S. through trade. Acknowledging that these tariffs have had a negative effect on farmers — many of whom supported Mr. Trump in 2016 — Mr. Trump called them patriots, saying “we’re taking care of our farmers” and he has “never heard a complaint.”

“Farmers are incredible. I don’t know. They may even be better than the realtors!” Mr. Trump cracked.

Mr. Trump, who has a background as a real estate mogul, spent much of his speech cracking jokes to laughs and applause from the audience. He acknowledged that his speech was “all off-cuff,” because he knew more about how to talk to realtors.

The president also spoke extensively about the economy. Bragging about low unemployment among women, Mr. Trump joked that “men should sue the women for discrimination.”

Mr. Trump also criticized the press for reporting on the recent escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran, saying that there was no conflict in the administration over whether to go to war with Iran. He condemned the use of anonymous sourcing in reporting.

“There is no source. The person does not exist. The person is not alive. It’s bullshit,” he claimed without basis.

He also insulted the numerous Democratic candidates running for president in 2020: “Some of these people are stone cold crazy.”

The president spent much of Friday morning preoccupied on Twitter with Attorney General William Barr’s assertion that the Trump campaign was surveilled.

“My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning.

In two separate interviews, Barr maintained that illegal spying did take place, a claim he made in Senate testimony last month. In a conversation with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on “America’s Newsroom,” Barr suggested that he wanted to get to the bottom of whether “government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale” during the Russia investigation. He criticized unnamed officials as providing “inadequate” explanations for what took place.

In a separate interview with the Wall Street Journal, Barr appeared more certain, asserting, “Government power was used to spy on American citizens.”

The attorney general’s assertion of spying, however, has been twice denied by current and former FBI officials. When asked directly about Barr’s claims before Congress, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate Appropriations Committee that he wasn’t aware of any illegal “spying” on the Trump campaign in 2016.

Former FBI Director James Comey also maintained that he had “no idea” what Barr was talking about when he brought up the claim of unauthorized spying.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump introduced his plan to prioritize high-skilled immigrants and restrict family-based migration a proposal that would drastically change the composition of immigrants to the U.S. However, the president’s plan won’t include any protections for undocumented immigrants who arrived as children. It’s unclear if a single Democrat has been consulted on the plan so far, and some Republicans have offered tepid responses to the proposal.

Asked Wednesday how failing to first confer with Democrats or include anything on so-called “Dreamers” amounts to anything more than a reelection strategy, the official said, “If they don’t want to engage then it would be part of the election. If they want to engage, it could be part of the negotiation. That’s going to be up to them.”

Kathryn Watson, Emily Tillett and Grace Segers contributed to this report

First published on May 17, 2019 / 2:21 PM

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