Amid the political firefights raging over immigration enforcement and an impending Supreme Court (SCOTUS) nomination, President Donald Trump pitched his agenda during a sit-down with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo. In the pre-recorded interview that aired on the morning of July 1st, Trump addressed a range of issues and answered questions about his trade policy.
It was all very presidential, with a notable absence of the red-meat rhetoric for which Trump has become known at his rallies and stump speeches. It was a reminder that the president means business and believes business is good.
The Supreme Court Pick
Previewing his choice of a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the president said he would not be asking potential nominees how they would rule on specific cases. The left has made the upcoming confirmation process all about one particular issue; Roe v. Wade. The 1973 Supreme Court decision in favor of a Texas woman seeking an abortion effectively legalized abortion across the country.
On the presidential campaign trail, Trump had played to his overwhelmingly pro-life base by pledging to nominate a Justice to the Supreme Court who would overturn the landmark case. He told Bartiromo that he had been advised not to put his SCOTUS nominee on the spot over the issue but added that he would be nominating a conservative to the bench and that the legal status of abortion might, at some point, be a matter for states to decide.
The Trump Trade Doctrine
Bartiromo appears mostly on the Fox Business Network and, like many economic analysts, has questioned the wisdom of imposing trade tariffs. It was no surprise, then, that she wanted some clarity from Trump on his imposition of heavy tariffs on both trading adversaries and partners. It has long been apparent that Trump sees tariffs as a weapon he can use to force other countries to open their markets to American products without prohibitive import tariffs. The effectiveness of this strategy is yet to be determined, although the president claimed that a number of countries have offered to negotiate their positions.
Trump also pointed out that motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson’s recent announcement that it would be moving some production overseas was planned long before his administration imposed new tariffs.
Democrats’ Self-Inflicted Immigration Wound?
Speaking on the immigration issue, the president hit back against the growing call from Democrats and many on the hard left to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Emphasising the agency’s operations against criminal illegal aliens – including the vicious MS-13 gang – Trump warned that disbanding ICE would mean “you’re going to have a country that [sic] you’re going to be afraid to walk out of your house.” He also suggested that campaigning on the abolition of ICE would not work out well for Democrats.
Asked about the increasing hostility incited against his administration personnel and, more generally, against his supporters, Trump warned that this, too, was not a winning strategy for his opponents.
The interview was likely a disappointment for Trump’s many detractors in the media who would have hung on his every word, waiting for something controversial or incendiary. The president was measured in his responses and, in the face of growing hysteria on the left, this was almost certainly a conscious decision. Where it once appeared that the Democrats were on course to sweep to power on Capitol Hill, it seems increasingly likely that the party’s shift to even more extreme positions and further away from mainstream America will sabotage that opportunity. As he continues to grow into a president who better understands the game of politics, Trump perhaps realizes that there’s a time for hitting back and a time for sitting back and watching one’s opponent inflict their own wounds.