News and Commentary

Trump Said He Didn’t Want a 45% Tariff On China. He Lied.

During Thursday’s GOP debate, Donald Trump insisted that he had never called for a 45% tariff on Chinese exports, as The New York Times reported he had done in a meeting with their editorial board. Trump blustered, “That’s wrong. They were wrong. It’s the New York Times, they are always wrong.”

Not this time; the Times had it right.

Fox Business’ Neil Cavuto prompted Trump by asking, “Last week, the New York Times editorial board quoted as saying that you would oppose, ‘up to 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods.’” This led to this exchange:

Trump: That’s wrong. They were wrong. It’s the New York Times, they are always wrong.

Cavuto: Well…

Trump: They were wrong.

Cavuto: You never said because they provided that…

Trump: No, I said, ” I would use — ” they were asking me what to do about North Korea. China, they don’t like to tell us but they have total control — just about, of North Korea. They can solve the problem of North Korea if they wanted to but they taunt us.

After the debate, the Times released the audio of the interview, proving Trump was lying when he denied calling for a 45% tariff.

In the interview with the Times board, Trump was asked, “What would you, as the American president, do to cut back on trade with China?”

Evading the question, Trump offered a long rambling discourse over the valuation of Chinese currency, finally segueing to an anecdote about a friend of his bewailing the fact that he had to buy equipment from a Japanese company rather than the American giant Caterpillar because Japan had devalued its currency.

“Let me tell you what the tax should be. The tax should be 45%.”

Donald Trump, to the New York Times

The interviewer persisted, “So what would you do, as president, to put pressure on China? Would you cut off Caterpillar sales?”

Trump responded:

No, I wouldn’t. I would tax China coming in, products coming in. Tariff. I would do a tariff, And they do it to us. You have to be smart. I’m a free trader. I’m a free trader. Some of the people, “Oh, it’s terrible,” I’m a free trader. I love free trade. But it’s got to be reasonably fair. I would do a tax. And the tax … Let me tell you what the tax should be. The tax should be 45%. That would be a tax that would be an equivalent to some of the kind of , y’know, devaluations of the economy. They cannot believe that we haven’t done this yet.