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

How "naked ballots" could upend mail-in voting in Pennsylvania

Trump signs in Olyphant, Penn. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ordered state officials last week to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner "secrecy" envelope in November's election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state of play: The decision went under the radar alongside the simultaneous decision to extend the time that mail-in ballots could be counted, but Philadelphia's top elections official warned state legislators this week that throwing out so-called "naked ballots" could bring "electoral chaos" to the state and cause "tens of thousands of votes" to be thrown out — potentially tipping the presidential election.

Commission releases topics for first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace has selected what topics he'll cover while moderating the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden next week.

What to watch: Topics for the Sept. 29 debate will include Trump and Biden's records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, economic policy, racism and the integrity of the election, the Commission for Presidential Debates announced on Tuesday. Each topic will receive 15 minutes of conversation and will be presented in no particular order.

Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jay Powell bump elbows before House hearing on Tuesday. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the expiration of Congress' coronavirus stimulus will weigh on the U.S. economy.

Why it matters: Powell warned that the effects of dried-up benefits are a looming risk to the economy, even if the consequences aren't yet visible.

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