*From:* George Condon [mailto:xxx@nationaljournal.com]
*Sent:* Tuesday, February 13, 2018 1:07 PM
*Subject:* Pool Report #2 - trade discussion

The trade discussion with members of Congress, which had been scheduled as a closed event, was opened to the pool and the 50-minute session was conducted wholly with the pool in attendance. There was no mention of the Rob Porter flap. It was focused entirely on trade matters with only slight digressions on infrastructure and DACA.

Fuller quotes to follow, including the official transcript. The highlights:

The president firmly repeated his long-held position, decrying foreign tariffs and taxes he believes are unfair to American products. He said aluminum and steel imports are being decimated by dumping. He said, they are dumping and destroying our industries, adding, We cant let that happen. He said he is considering imposing tariffs and cast his choice as one between tariffs and quotas. He said he was moved by the empty factories, steel factories he saw during the campaign. Ive been looking at them for two years as I went around campaigning. He added, I want to keep prices down but I also want to make sure that we have a steel industry and an aluminum industry and we do need that for national defense. If we ever have a conflict we dont want to be buying steel for a country we are fighting. What we are talking about is tariffs and or quotas.

Sitting through most of the meeting with his arms folded across his chest, he had a glass of water and some notes on the table in front of him in the Cabinet Room. He praised the fact that the gathering was bipartisan and encouraged the members of Congress to state their views.

A common theme of the comments by members was praise for the presidents tough trade stance coupled with oft-stated calls for caution. Several warned of dire consequences for the prices of goods and American jobs if the United States became engaged in a tariff war. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri was the first to speak and the first to raise that warning. We need to be careful here that we dont start a reciprocal battle on tariffs. We make aluminum and we make steel in Missouri but we buy a lot of aluminum and we buy a lot of steel as well.

On DACA, the president joked to Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. He told him that he could envision a bipartisan approach to infrastructure more so than DACA. He added, We want to help DACA. You dont. He quickly added, Im kidding. Then he voiced optimism that DACA can be resolved soon. He returned to the subject in his closing remarks, urging the Democrats to give him a counter proposal on infrastructure and saying, Everybody in this room wants DACA. He added, It would be a great achievement.

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More to follow.

George Condon, National Journal


Public Pool is an automated feed of White House press pool reports. For live updates, follow @WHPublicPool on Twitter.