Trump still hangs tariff threat over Mexico despite deal
STERLING, Va. – President Donald Trump on Sunday dangled the prospect of renewing his tariff threat against Mexico if the U.S. ally doesn’t cooperate on border issues, while some of his Democratic challengers for the White House said the last-minute deal to avert trade penalties was overblown.
In a series of tweets, Trump defended the agreement heading off the 5% tax on all Mexican goods that he had threatened to impose Monday, but he warned Mexico that, “if for some unknown reason” cooperation fails, “we can always go back to our previous, very profitable, position of Tariffs.”
Still, he said he didn’t believe that would be necessary.
The tweets came amid questions about just how much of the deal — announced with great fanfare Friday — was really new.
It included a commitment from Mexico, for instance, to deploy its new National Guard to the country’s southern border with Guatemala.
Mexico, however, had already intended to do that before Trump’s latest threat and had made that clear to U.S. officials.
Mexican officials have described their commitment as an accelerated deployment.
The U.S. also hailed Mexico’s agreement to embrace the expansion of a program implemented earlier this year under which some asylum-seekers are returned to Mexico as they wait out their cases.
But U.S. officials had already been working to expand the program, which has already led to the return of about 10,000 to Mexico, without Mexico’s public embrace.
“The president has completely overblown what he reports to have achieved. These are agreements that Mexico had already made, in some cases months ago,” said Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, speaking on ABC’s “This Week.”
”They might have accelerated the time table, but by and large the president achieved nothing except to jeopardize the most important trading relationship that the United States of America has.”
Another 2020 candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chastised Trump for using tariffs as a threat and operating a “trade policy based on tweets.”
“I think what the world is tired of and what I am tired of is a president who consistently goes to war, verbal war with our allies, whether it is Mexico, whether it is Canada,” he said.
But acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, speaking on “Fox News Sunday” insisted “all of it is new,” including the agreement to dispatch around 6,000 National Guard troops — a move Mexico has described as an “acceleration.” /gg
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