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Carolyn Kaster / AP

President Trump, who has expressed enthusiasm behind closed doors for harsh trade tariffs aimed at China, is headed — for now — toward a more moderate course.

  • Trump originally favored a hard line, but was told in a heated meeting that most of his staff and Cabinet were opposed. Economic adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin argued privately that tough tariffs were bad economics at a time when the market and job rates are strong.
  • Trump left staff with the impression he would proceed with tariffs, but has tempered his views amid the internal pressure.
  • Before heading off to Europe tomorrow on the second international trip of his presidency, Trump tweeted: "Really great numbers on jobs & the economy! Things are starting to kick in now, and we have just begun! Don't like steel & aluminum dumping!"

The backstory: Indeed, steel and aluminum have been on Trump's mind for months. But it turns out that the U.S. imports little steel from China, and most of the steel we import isn't dumped (sold below cost).

The players: The most muscular internal enthusiasm for across-the-board tariffs comes from Steve Bannon and trade-policy director Peter Navarro. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a longtime friend of the president's, is seen as sharing Bannon's view but is cooler to outright tariffs.

The likely solution: With the caveat that Trump can always make unexpected decisions, the administration is headed toward a more tailored approach that targets China and countries through which it trans-ships steel — Vietnam, for example. That could include possible tariffs, based on unfair trade practices, like dumping.

What's next: The U.S. will need help from other countries to deal with China. A White House readout of a Trump call yesterday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ahead of this week's G-20 summit in Hamburg, said they discussed "global steel overcapacity" — a.k.a., the problem of Chinese dumping on the worldwide market.

Be smart: Read that as a signal that Trump plans a G-20 discussion of more collective action.

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Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.