Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump's plan to turn threats against China into actual tariffs could turn a trade spat into a trade war, and sources familiar with his thinking say he has no hesitation about potentially disrupting the world economy.

What to watch: Today, Trump "will announce a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion of Chinese products," the WashPost reports. "The tariffs, which Trump set in motion in March, are a response to China’s practice of compulsory technology licensing for foreign companies and its efforts to steal U.S. trade secrets via cybertheft."

  • The Wall Street Journal adds that the decision follows a 90-minute meeting yesterday "of senior White House officials, national-security officials and ... Treasury, Commerce Department, U.S. Trade Representative’s Office."
  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said yesterday that China and the U.S. faced a choice between cooperation and confrontation, per the Journal.

We've told you that Trump's one constant belief over 30 years has been that the U.S. is ripped off on trade and should retaliate against foreign governments.

A source with long exposure to Trump's tirades about trade said:

  • "It’s not rhetoric, it’s not for show, he believes it."
  • "When it comes to compulsory tech licensing and cyber theft, to which [today's] tariffs are responding, ... [h]e's ... less afraid to be antagonistic toward them than past leaders. He also has the cushion of a very strong economy."
  • "[T]his comes at an important time in the North Korea negotiations, when photo ops are giving way to serious discussions. We’re not dropping the maximum pressure campaign, and Trump has made clear that he’s willing to link trade issues to national security concessions."
  • A key point: "If China continues to help with North Korea, you could definitely see him walk back some tariffs."

The frenetic reaction to the plan to pull the trigger on tariffs "shows how thoroughly the political elites misunderstand President Trump," said an informal adviser to the West Wing:

  • "He is committed to rewriting U.S. trade relationships across the board. He was not posturing when he ran as a trade skeptic. The advisers from his 'let’s keep negotiating' faction were never going to prevail."
  • "[O]ur trading partners were convinced Trump would not risk the robust U.S. economy, so they never brought enough concessions to the negotiations."
  • "Trump was always going to take action to attempt to change a global trade system designed around the post-World War II U.S. willingness to absorb trade deficits as a tool of foreign policy."

Be smart ... The adviser told me: "Turns out these moves were totally predictable but only to those with eyes, ears and memory."

Go deeper: Our popular Deep Dive from last Saturday, "A new era of global trade wars."

Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily morning newsletter, Axios AM.

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.