Trump told U.S. companies they are 'hereby ordered' to stop doing business in China. Now the White House is trying to claim that's not what he said.
On Friday, Trump caused quite a stir — not to mention a dramatic 400-point drop of the Dow — when he tweeted a decree to U.S. companies to stop doing business in China.
"Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China," Trump wrote. The "order" was met with widespread mockery, as many rushed to explain that Trump cannot actually use his Twitter account to "hereby order" anything.
Days later, however, the White House was claiming Trump had done no such thing.
"That's not what the president said," Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, claimed on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "He's asking American companies to take a look, take a fresh look, at, frankly, moving out of China. Going someplace else."
Of course, that isn't at all what happened. Trump's tweets could not have been clearer. He "hereby ordered" companies to look for alternatives, and he followed it up by "ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!)."
But, as often happens, the White House is claiming that what the entire world saw Trump do with its own eyes isn't at all what happened. Yet, at the same time, Kudlow insists that Trump in fact does have the authority to issue such an order if he wanted to.
"Ultimately, he does have authority," Kudlow said, claiming Trump has "emergency economic power authority." Trump almost invoked this power against Mexico, Kudlow added, to deal with the Trump-created border crisis, but Trump decided not to because "the Mexicans came to our rescue" and it was no longer necessary.
"So in theory, that law exists," Kudlow said.
That's not true either.
"The Economic Powers Act allows the president of the United States to regulate commerce during a national emergency," Vox explained. But that act doesn't allow Trump to "hereby order" companies to close their businesses in China, especially when there is no declared national emergency.
Not that Kudlow would be expected to know this. Before joining the Trump administration, Kudlow was a conservative TV pundit, not an economist. As Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman explained when Kudlow was named to lead the National Economic Council, "Trump isn't looking for good advice, he's looking for sycophancy, praise for whatever he does. And that's something Kudlow can certainly provide."
Kudlow is "reliably wrong about everything," Krugman added.
So it comes as no surprise that Kudlow is wrong about Trump's authority to order U.S. companies to leave China. Nor does it come as a surprise that Kudlow is insisting that's not what Trump said — when, obviously, he did.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.