Wallace Presses Mnuchin: Does Trump Really Believe He Has Authority To Stop Companies From Doing Business In China?


"FOX News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about the president's claim that he has authority to block American companies from doing business in China.

FOX NEWS, CHRIS WALLACE: President Trump tweeted this on Friday about American businesses -- I want to put it up on the screen.

"Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies home and making our products in the USA."

Mr. Secretary, is the president ordering U.S. companies to stop doing business with China? And if so, under what authority?

TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, he would have the authority to do that under -- if he declared an emergency. He has not done that. I think what he was saying is he's ordering companies to start looking because he wants to make sure -- to the extent we are in an extended trade war -- that companies don't have these issues and move out of China. And we want them to be in places where they are trading partners that respect us and trade with us fairly.

WALLACE: I want to just press down on us a little bit because the president claims he does have authority on something called the Emergency Economic Powers Act passed in 1977. Here he is on Friday night.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, in 1977, we had an act passed -- a National Emergency Act. I have the absolute right to do that. We’ll see how that goes. But I have the absolute right. 1977, check it out.

WALLACE: But there are a couple of problems here, Mr. Secretary. First of all, as you pointed out, the president has to declare a national emergency, which he hasn't. Secondly, the act only blocks American countries sending the transfer of future funds, not past investments. And also, in the past, of the last 42 years, it’s only been used to stop businesses with outlaw nations or with drug dealers, not with trading partners. So, is this really a realistic option for the president?

MNUCHIN: Well, the president has lots of options. And again, our first choice is to have fair and reciprocal trade. The reason why we put on tariffs is for the last two and a half years, we've been working with China to rebalance the trading relationship and it hasn't rebalanced. The trade deficit has grown significantly despite assurances from China that we would -- we would improve this.

And as you know, when we were close to a deal, the president was happy, and they backed off of that. So, the president does have lots of authorities. You know, we use these authorities successfully with Mexico on certain issues there. We now are close to hopefully having the USMCA passed. We had a terrific meeting with Canada today on this, and we're looking forward to getting that agreement passed.

WALLACE: So, just to lock this up, the president fully intends to impose the next round of sanctions as he's announced on September 1st unless there is some break in the negotiations?

MNUCHIN: Absolutely. And to the extent that the Chinese respond again, you can assume the president will consider all his options.

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