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Scaramucci on Trump's "America First" strategy: "It's Steve Bannon nonsense"

Founder of Skybridge Capital and former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci
Anthony Scaramucci. Photo: David Becker

Former Trump aide-turned-critic Anthony Scaramucci told Axios' Dan Primack in the Pro Rata Podcast on Monday that President Trump's "America First" strategy could result in the U.S. losing the trade war with China.

The big picture: Scaramucci, who was a short-lived White House communications director, had always supported Trump's decision to take on the Chinese and use tariffs as a negotiation tool. What Trump has failed to do, he said, was get European allies on board. Scaramucci told Axios earlier this month that if Trump "doesn't reform his behavior, it will not just be me, but many others will be considering helping to find a replacement in 2020."

Highlights:

  • On bilateral trade negotiations: "It's the 'America First' strategy. It's Steve Bannon nonsense, and the Trump nonsense about a bilateral deal means that the United States isn’t 'subservient' to any other country. What they're missing is that you may have the same exact grievance as the Europeans. Therefore, why wouldn't you use the strength of your allies? I don't know too many wars, Dan, where people win the wars unilaterally. You usually have a series of allies ... and they help you resolve a conflict."
  • On a potential recession: "It depends on timing. I don’t think you're going to get a recession before the election. ... We can be fairly predictive of what's going to happen over the next 3–5 quarters and the economy is quite strong. … The swinging wildly into trade negotiations is sort of stalled everybody. If he had just sat on the sidelines and was a cheerleader for the economy and espoused the good policies that he was deploying, there'd be no need to even be talking about a recession."
  • On Trump reaching a China trade deal before 2020: "I think that's likely. ... My prediction is [China is] just shaking him up right now. He'll probably cut a deal with them to hopefully bolster his chance to win re-election. ... We have 5 more years of this nonsense, that could do a tremendous amount of damage. It's very likely they’ll get a trade deal done, and it's very likely the Chinese are enjoying what he's doing to the alliance, to the world, the U.S. and our allies."

Go deeper: Listen to the full Axios Pro Rata podcast