Trump's long trade war

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Senior administration officials tell Axios that a trade deal with China isn't close and that the U.S. could be in for a long trade war.

The state of play: A senior administration official said the differences between the two sides are so profound that, based on his read of the situation, he can't see the fight getting resolved before the end of the year.

  • Trump yesterday held out the possibility of meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 in Japan next month. That statement may have been made in part to calm the stock market, which yesterday had its worst day since January. (Lead Financial Times headline: Global markets reel.")

The bottom line: White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow was right when he said on Sunday that "both sides will suffer" in a U.S.-China trade war.

  • The Chinese economy will be harmed. But so, too, will America's. And so will American consumers, who will pay higher prices, and American farmers, who will be targeted for retaliation by China.
  • The question remains: Can Trump, facing a re-election race in 2020, outlast China's "president for life"?
  • Both Trump and Xi have to contend with hardliners in their parties. But only one of them can harness all the tools of authoritarianism.

Trump’s mindset on the Chinese is simple: They only respond to shows of brute force.

  • And he thinks they’ll suffer more than America will, because they buy fewer products.

I've asked several current and former administration officials whether Trump actually believes that China pays the tariffs — rather than the reality that U.S. importers and consumers do.

  • The consensus is "yes": That's what he actually believes.
  • And as one former aide said: There’s little point trying to persuade Trump otherwise, because his belief in tariffs is "like theology."

Go deeper ... Trump's trade war: Where American workers are hit hardest

Additional Stories

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,463,392 — Total deaths: 344,503 — Total recoveries — 2,195,325Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,653,904 — Total deaths: 97,948 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Italy reports lowest number of new coronavirus cases since February

Italy’s aerobatic team Frecce Tricolori fly over Milan in Duomo Square on May 25. Photo: Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images

The Italian government reported 300 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the lowest daily increase since Feb. 29.

Why it matters: Italy, the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown after emerging as a hotspot in March, appears to have finally weathered its coronavirus outbreak. Italy has reported nearly 33,000 total deaths, the third-highest total behind the U.S. and U.K.

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

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Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.

WHO temporarily suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns

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The World Health Organization is temporarily pausing tests of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment in order to review safety concerns, the agency's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said Monday.

Why it matters: The decision comes after a retrospective review published in The Lancet found that coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing.

Dominic Cummings: "I respectfully disagree" that I broke U.K. lockdown rules

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Dominic Cummings, the top aide to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, defended himself at a press conference Monday against allegations that he broke the U.K.'s coronavirus lockdown rules by traveling to his parents' home last month while exhibiting symptoms.

What he said: "I respectfully disagree. The legal rules do not necessarily cover all circumstances, especially the ones I found myself in," Cummings told the assembled press.

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

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