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Media ‘greatly misinterpreted’ Trump’s comments, White House press secretary says

WATCH: Trump admits 'second thoughts' on trade war with China

U.S. President Donald Trump‘s comments at the G7 summit over the weekend prompted many to conclude that he was having second thoughts on the country’s escalating trade war with China.

However, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said his comments had been “greatly misinterpreted,” arguing that Trump was instead saying that he regretted not having further increased tariffs on China.

On Friday, Trump “ordered” U.S. companies to move their businesses out of China, and increased tariffs in response to levies imposed on U.S. products by Beijing.

“Starting on October 1st, the 250 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, currently being taxed at 25%, will be taxed at 30%,” he wrote in a tweet.

Trump said the additional $300 billion worth of goods and products from China previously being taxed at 10 per cent will now be taxed at 15 per cent.

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When he was asked during a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 summit if he had second thoughts about his approach to the trade dispute, Trump told reporters “might as well, might as well.”

“I have second thoughts about everything,” Trump replied.

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‘I think they want to make a deal very badly’: Trump on China trade talks
‘I think they want to make a deal very badly’: Trump on China trade talks

However, in a statement issued shortly after the meeting, Grisham said the president’s answer had been “greatly misinterpreted.”

“President Trump responded in the affirmative because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher,” Grisham said.

Later, in an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow — who was in the room when Trump made the comments — said the president “didn’t quite hear the question.”

READ MORE: Mixed messages from Trump on China trade war during G7

Grisham’s defence of Trump’s G7 comments is in line with previous remarks she made saying the media takes Trump “so literally.”

When asked last month in an interview with the Washington Post if she thinks the president ever lies, Grisham offered a quick “no.”

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WATCH: G7 ends with both agreement and discord

G7 ends with both agreement and discord
G7 ends with both agreement and discord

“No,” she said. “I don’t think they’re lies… I think the president communicates in a way that some people, especially the media, aren’t necessarily comfortable with. A lot of times they take him so literally. I know people will roll their eyes if I say he was just kidding or speaking in hypotheticals, but sometimes he is.

“What I’ve learned about him is that he loves this country and he’s not going to lie to this country.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump was ‘joking’ when he called himself the ‘chosen one’

Just last week, Trump was criticized for saying he was the “chosen one” when asked about the country’s trade war with China.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Aug. 21, Trump said his life would be easier had he not mounted a trade war with the country, but added the U.S. will likely make a deal with China.

When a reporter asked him on Friday what he meant by referring to himself as the “chosen one,” Trump replied: “You know exactly what I mean.”

WATCH: Donald Trump — ‘I am the chosen one’ when it comes to trade

Donald Trump: ‘I am the chosen one’ when it comes to trade
Donald Trump: ‘I am the chosen one’ when it comes to trade

“It was sarcasm,” he said. “It was joking, we were all smiling. And a question like that is just fake news.”

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On Saturday, Trump tweeted similar comments from the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.

“When I looked up to the sky and jokingly said ‘I am the chosen one,’ at a press conference two days ago, referring to taking on Trade with China, little did I realize that the media would claim that I had a ‘Messiah complex.’ They knew I was kidding, being sarcastic, and just having fun.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump was ‘joking’ when he called himself the ‘chosen one’

READ MORE: Donald Trump was ‘joking’ when he called himself the ‘chosen one’

In an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News on Monday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said “most of the time” Americans should take what Trump says “very literally,” when he decides to speak out on a specific issue.

“I think most of the time you should take it very literally,” he said. “I think sometimes he says things that are meant to be a joke.

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Trump says China tariffs ‘doing very well’ for the U.S.
Trump says China tariffs ‘doing very well’ for the U.S.

“Obviously the comment recently on ‘the chosen’ one,’ that was said tongue-in-cheek,” he continued. “That wasn’t meant to be a serious comment.

“I think most people know the president is serious about China and trade.”

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Last month, Grisham defended Trump after he posted a tirade of racist tweets saying four Democratic congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broke and crime infested places from which they came.”

In a tweet of her own, Grisham blamed the”mainstream media and the Dems,” saying Trump had been attacked for “speaking directly to the American people.”

When asked by the Washington Post about her general view of the press, Grisham said in many aspects the media “does amazing things and helps a lot of people,” but that their coverage can be “slanted and biased.”

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“I’ve seen it with my own eyes. A majority of reporters are liberal,” she told the Washington Post. “A lot of reporters are uncomfortable with him and his blunt way of speaking.”

Who is press secretary Stephanie Grisham?

Grisham, 42, a fixture in the Arizona Republican Party, was one of Trump’s first hires – as a press aide in 2015 – of his presidential campaign. She served as a deputy press secretary in the White House when he took office in January 2017 and eventually moved over to the first lady’s operation.

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READ MORE: Stephanie Grisham replaces Sarah Sanders as Trump’s press secretary

Before joining Trump’s campaign, Grisham was press aide to then-speaker of the Arizona house David Gowan.

Trump’s wife Melania announced in a tweet posted June 25 that Grisham would take on the roles of both press secretary and communications director.

“She has been with us since 2015 – @potus & I can think of no better person to serve the Administration & our country,” she wrote. “Excited to have Stephanie working for both sides of the @WhiteHouse.”

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Grisham succeeds Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was appointed White House press secretary after Sean Spicer resigned in July 2017.

Under Huckabee Sanders’ tenure, regular White House press briefings ceased.

Reinstating daily press briefings?

In an interview with Eric Bolling of Sinclair Broadcast Group earlier this month, Grisham said the decision whether to reinstate the daily White House briefings would be left up to the president.

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“He’s so accessible, so right now I think that’s good enough,” she said. “No question goes unanswered. He will take questions on a variety of subjects.”

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-With files from Maham Abedi, Reuters and the Associated Press