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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump may not intend to launch the 2nd Cold War, but his tweets on Friday laid out one path to get there.

Why it matters: The president is using Twitter to demand a conscious uncoupling of the world's two largest economies.

Trump's tweets, sent after China announced retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods:

  • "Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA."
  • "I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!)"
  • "Starting on October 1st, the 250 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, currently being taxed at 25%, will be taxed at 30% ...Additionally, the remaining 300 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, that was being taxed from September 1st at 10%, will now be taxed at 15%..."

Reality check: Presidents don't get to order companies to come home.

Between the lines: Earlier on Friday, Fed chair Jay Powell warned that "trade policy uncertainty" is a driving factor for the market's fears.

  • Trump's response: "My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?"

Behind the scenes: Trump recently told advisers that he would be perfectly happy if the U.S. did no trade whatsoever with China, according to Axios' Jonathan Swan.

  • In late 2017, Trump first caught aides off guard when he floated the impossible idea of cutting off all trade with China.

The bottom line: All of this has gone down during a strong economy. Imagine how bad it'd get were things to turn in the other direction.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.