President Donald Trump aimed his latest criticism at the Federal Reserve on Friday, just days before central bank policy makers’ next meeting, and said he predicted an eventual trade deal with China.
LATEST FED CRITICISM
During a nearly hourlong phone interview on Fox News, Trump said the Fed had set interest rates too high, returning to a criticism he made as recently as Tuesday.
Trump has taken frequent shots at the Fed for raising interest rates, something the central bank did four times last year. Policy makers meet June 18-19 and more economists have said the Fed is likely to lower rates this year.
Now see: The Fed won’t cut interest rates next week after CPI report — but probably will in July, economists say.
EVENTUAL CHINA DEAL
Asked about the prospect of a trade deal with China, Trump said he believed Beijing would make one with the U.S. “eventually.” Though he has said he expects to meet President Xi Jinping at a G-20 summit in Japan later this month, Trump told the Fox hosts it didn’t matter if the Chinese leader came to the event.
Trump has applied tariffs to billions of dollars in Chinese goods and has held out the prospect of more if China doesn’t negotiate an agreement with the U.S.
More than 600 companies and industry trade associations wrote to the White House on Thursday urging Trump to remove levies on imports from China and end the ongoing trade war.
U.S. stocks DJIA, -0.07% COMP, -0.52% SPX, -0.16% ended slightly lower Friday after China reported weak economic data.
Also on the international front, Trump said Iran was to blame for attacks on fuel tankers Thursday, an action that sent oil prices CLN19, +0.40% BRNQ19, +0.03% jumping. He added he’d like to negotiate with Tehran but wasn’t in a rush. A White House spokesman said Trump spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the attacks and thanked him “for his effort to facilitate communication with Iran.” Abe on a visit to Iran got a rebuke from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after suggesting the U.S. wanted sincere dialogue with Tehran, The Wall Street Journal reported.
PELOSI AND USMCA
Trump in the interview also both attacked and appealed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accusing her of making a “fascist statement” when she said his administration was engaged in a “criminal coverup.”
“It’s a fascist statement, it’s a disgraceful statement,” Trump told the Fox hosts.
At the same time, he said he hoped Pelosi would work to get the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement through Congress. “I hope that doesn’t get caught up in the politics,” he said. Trump discussed the deal with JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, +0.26% Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and other CEOs from the Business Roundtable on Friday, the group said. Dimon told CNBC “we’re in favor of getting the USMCA deal done” after meeting Trump.
Pelosi has signaled she won’t allow a vote on the deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement without changes including easier enforcement of rules designed to bolster labor rights in Mexico.
CONWAY, PENCE AND HEALTH PLAN
Separately, Trump defended his aide Kellyanne Conway and said he would not fire her. A federal agency recommended her removal over violating the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from using their office for partisan activity. The Office of Special Counsel called Conway a “repeat offender” for disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official role on TV and social media. “It looks like they are trying to take away her right of free speech,” Trump said in the Fox interview.
Trump also in the interview declined to say if he’d endorse Vice President Mike Pence should he run for president, saying it was too early. And he said that “of course” he’d go to the Federal Bureau of Investigation if a foreign power offered him dirt on an opponent, in an apparent walkback of earlier comments.
Read: Trump now says ‘of course’ he would contact the FBI if a foreign power offers him campaign dirt.
Speaking at the White House, Trump announced a plan to let employees use special pretax health arrangements known as HRAs to buy insurance. That includes policies that don’t comply with many of Obamacare’s consumer protections, The Wall Street Journal noted. The final rule was issued Thursday.
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