Trump signals trade fight as he considers tariffs

Critics warn that a tariff could spark a trade war.

(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)

(CNN) – On the shores of Maralago, Donald Trump is making waves, and the President-elect’s team is making it clear that a fight is coming on trade.

Trump is considering an executive action to impose up to a 10% tariff on imports to strengthen U.S. companies. Critics warn that could spark a trade war.

But Peter Navarro, the man tapped to lead the incoming administration’s new trade council, warned Trump will crack down on countries that engage in unfair trading practices.

Navarro said, “Donald Trump doesn’t want to slap tariffs on anybody. Ronald Reagan didn’t want to slap tariffs on anybody, but if they cheat us, he will do that.”

The tariff measure would fulfill President-elect Donald Trump’s “America first” promise, but Trump may run into one big problem if he tries to impose tariffs: Congress. A top GOP source on Capitol Hill says revenue measures come from the House of Representatives, not the White House.

Top republicans, like house speaker Paul Ryan, have sounded cool to such talk.

Ryan said, “I’ll tell him what I’ve been saying all along, which is we can get at what he’s trying to get at better through comprehensive tax reform.”

Trump is also getting tough, even with his biggest surrogates. One day after Newt Gingrich said Trump was ready to give up on his campaign battle cry, “drain the swamp,” Trump is putting Gingrich in his place.

Trump tweeted, “Someone incorrectly stated that the phrase ‘drain the swamp’ was no longer being used by me. Actually, we will always be trying to drain the swamp.”

Gingrich backed down. He said, “I want to report that I made a big boo boo. I talked this morning with President-elect Donald Trump and he reminded me he likes draining the swamp. I mischaracterized it the other day.”

Still, other longtime Trump loyalists are being rewarded, with adviser Kellyanne Conway named Counselor to the President. Sean Spicer was selected as White House Press Secretary, just one of a slew of new staffing appointments.

As for Trump’s other key advisers, his children, they’re making moves designed to tamp down on questions of conflicts of interest.

Trump’s son Eric explained to the New York Times why he now won’t be participating in a fundraiser that was set for one day after the inauguration, saying, “As unfortunate as it is, I understand the quagmire.”

Conway said it’s a new posture that will hurt the Trump children’s charities.

But Trump’s family is under a new microscope, as daughter Ivanka found out on a JetBlue flight when one of the passengers tweeted his husband intended to “harass” Ivanka and her husband Jared.

The passenger who allegedly made that threat were removed from the plane.

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