WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — As he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Trump doubled down Monday on the claim he doesn’t want a trade war as nations and members of his own party continued to react to his tariffs on steel and aluminum.
It was love at first sight at the White House for the two leaders.
“This is the first time we meet at America’s capitol since you declared Jerusalem Israel’s capital, and this was an historic proclamation,” Netanyahu said.
In coming to Washington, Netanyahu was escaping some political turmoil of his own. Back home, he faces a growing corruption investigation. On Tuesday, he’ll give a speech to a likely receptive audience at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.
This comes after getting a warm reception from the president.
“We have the best relationship with Israel we ever had,” Trump said. “I think we are as close now as ever before.”
The joint press conference was dominated by questions over trade, after the president said last week he will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports, and that no nations will be exempt.
“People have to understand, our country, on trade, has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world whether it’s friend or enemy,” Trump said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote in a statement that he believes the tariffs could lead to a trade war. Ryan and other Republican leaders have been urging Mister Trump to reconsider.
“You’re punishing the American consumer and our allies,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said. “You’re making a huge mistake here. Go after China, not the rest of the world.”
The president says he won’t back down in the face of possible retaliation from other nations.
“If they want to do something then we’ll just tax their cars that they send in here like water,” Trump said.
The president added the tariffs could be lifted for Canada and Mexico if those nations are willing to offer more favorable terms under a new NAFTA deal.