President Trump has been pushing hard to bring his "Buy American, Hire American" mantra to fruition, including with an executive order meant to prevent "foreign cheaters" from taking US jobs and infringing on our steel production, a senior administration official said Monday, per Politico. The New York Times reports that on Thursday, Trump also laid into Canada, saying our northern neighbor exploits US workers, specifically in the dairy industry, and that "what they've done ... is a disgrace." The Wall Street Journal notes that to make his point on steel (and on other products "important to defense," a source says), Trump has called for a probe relying on the little-referenced 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which allows for trade sanctions for "national security" reasons. The argument, briefly: If the US doesn't create enough steel, it won't have enough for the military.
While some may point to all of this trade talk as an example of Trump keeping one of his campaign promises, the Times notes a more interesting angle: that of a "comeback" for Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist who was deemed a "marked man" just last week. Trump is "manically focused on these trade issues," Bannon tells the paper, which notes that Bannon's nationalist belief on putting up trade barriers stands in stark contrast to the "globalist" philosophies of other White House bigwigs like Jared Kushner (Trump's son-in-law) and ex-Goldman Sachs banker Gary Cohn, who now heads up the National Economic Council. At any rate, a senior White House official tells the Times we can expect more such trade-tied events, perhaps a couple a week for the next few weeks.