White House Repudiates Trump; Says No Deal With China to Slash Car Tariffs

Who's telling the truth?
Trump and Xi in Argentina
(Photo: Reuters)

The White House yesterday was forced to admit president Donald Trump lied when he boasted China had agreed to his demand that it slash tariffs on American cars imported into China.

It said no deal on this tariff was reached during the Dec. 1 meeting in Argentina between a U.S. team led by Trump and a similar one headed by Chinese president Xi Jinping. Trump even falsified the tariff rate China currently levies on American cars, claiming it stands at 40 percent.

Trump tweeted: "China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%." He later claimed China reduced this tariff to zero.

The actual tariff rate is 25 percent. Reliable sources cited by U.S. media said China plans to reduce this rate to just 15 percent. Whether China will actually do so is an open question, however.

 The negative effect on Wall Street of the White House's backpedaling will reverberate today when U.S. equity markets resumed trading. Markets closed Wednesday to honor the late U.S. president George Herbert Walker Bush, who died Nov. 30 and who will be buried today in Houston, Texas.

U.S. carmakers, especially the Big Four, were delighted by Trump's claim, now proven as false, he had clinched an "incredible" trade deal reached after a 2-1/2 hour dinner with Xi that included the alleged 40 percent tariff cut claimed by Trump.

Trump's patently false claim unraveled when the White House and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow refused to confirm any of Trump's boasts. Worse, the White House refused to support Trump's claims.

Kudlow acknowledged there was no "specific agreement" on auto tariffs. He also said he couldn't "specifically" answer questions about China's agricultural product purchases. He said his "expectation" is that China might roll back tariffs on goods "quickly."

Kudlow and Trump also disagreed on when this 90-day trade war truce will begin. Kudlow said it starts Jan. 1, 2019; Trump disagreed, saying the clock started ticking on Dec. 1.

Trump's penchant for lying, which some critics refer to as his "casual relationship with the truth," is well documented. It began on the day he was inaugurated as U.S. president. Trump ranted against side-by-side photos showing the crowd size at former president Barack Obama's swearing-in as president was far larger than his.

The infuriated Trump then ordered his former White House spokesman Sean Spicer to loudly declare the crowd size at Trump's inauguration was the largest in U.S. history. "Period!"

One news website calculated Trump has told more than 6,000 lies and misleading claims since taking office.

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