NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – President Donald Trump addressed a tax reform roundtable Thursday in West Virginia, where he spoke about the tariff threats back-and-forth with China and the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president first tossed his prepared remarks and said, “to hell with them.” He then discussed his tax overhaul and quite a few other topics. 

As for his proposed tariffs on China, he called President Xi Jinping a “friend.”

“He’s a friend of mine and I’m a friend of his and I like him a lot, but he’s representing China and I’m representing the United States of America, and it was time that we did something,” he said.

Trump’s national economic advisor Larry Kudlow said again Thursday no tariffs have been enacted yet, though.

“Give us some time to play this out and I might say not only in consultation with China, obviously, but in consultation with the ag(riculture) community, in consultation with the manufacturing community, the auto – you see, this is all part of the fairly delicate, broad-based negotiation. But it’s long overdue, that’s all I’m saying,” he said. “We could fix this thing, this could have a great ending.”

As for the U.S.-Mexico border, the president said, “we’re working out systems now and we’ve called out the National Guard.”

But the Trump administration has been mum on exact details.

“We’re going to send as many troops as we need to get the mission done,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said.

Asked about specific numbers, she replied, “no numbers.”

When Presidents Bush and Obama were in office and ordered troops to the border, they announced exactly how many and how long the deployment would last, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported.

The White House says it’s working with governors from border states to figure out exactly how many will be sent.

Once there, federal law prohibits U.S. military from acting as law enforcement, so they will not be able to arrest people illegally crossing the border, Gainer reported.

“The National Guard’s efforts will include aviation, engineering, surveillance, communications, vehicle maintenance and logistical support,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said.

As for embattled EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, the president was asked before he boarded Air Force 1 if he still has confidence in Pruitt. He said, “I do.”

Pruitt faces numerous ethics questions surrounding lobbyists.


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