President Trump is threatening to use the emergency authority granted by a powerful, but obscure federal law to make good on his tweeted "order" to US businesses to cut ties in China amid a spiraling trade war between the two nations, the AP reports. China's announcement Friday that it was raising tariffs on $75 billion in US imports sent Trump into a rage and White House aides scrambling for a response. Trump fired off on Twitter, declaring American companies "are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China." He later clarified that he was threatening to make use of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in the trade war, raising questions about the wisdom and propriety of making the 1977 act used to target rogue regimes, terrorists, and drug traffickers in this trade battle.
It would mark the latest grasp of authority by Trump, who has claimed widespread powers not sought by his predecessors despite his own past criticism of their use of executive powers. "For all of the Fake News Reporters that don't have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977," Trump tweeted late Friday. "Case closed!" The act gives presidents wide berth in regulating international commerce during times of declared national emergencies. Trump threatened to use those powers earlier this year to place tariffs on imports from Mexico in a bid to force the US neighbor to do more to address illegal crossings at their shared border. Click for the full story. (Or see what the US Chamber of Commerce thinks about his order.)