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Why Trump lit the fire

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on the Rose Garden colonnade on Thursday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The biggest key to understanding Trump's dogmatism on trade is that even as he switched political parties and changed his views on issue after issue, his one consistent stance over 40 years is that other countries are "ripping off the United States" in trade deals, as he put it in 1987.

This is the one thing the president really believes, with his protectionist roots going back to the union-friendly environment where his father, Fred, courted Democratic pols.