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White House Economics Chief Refuses to Defend Trump’s Tariff Lie, Tells Reporter to Ask Trump About It

White House Council of Economic Advisors Chairman and Unsung Fourth Chipmunk Kevin Hassett refused to back up Donald Trump‘s oft-repeated lie that other countries are paying massive amounts in tariffs to the U.S. Treasury, instead telling reporters to ask Trump about it.

During a gaggle with reporters on the White House driveway Monday morning, Breakfast Media White House Correspondent Andrew Feinberg pressed Hassett on Trump’s renewed threat to levy tariffs against cars coming into the United States from Mexico.

“How does raising a tax on American consumers pressure Mexico at all, and why should Americans have to pay more for cars because of something that the government of Mexico is or isn’t doing?” Feinberg asked.

Hassett did not dispute Feinberg, instead sidestepping the tariff question to focus on Trump’s threat to close the border.

“We’re looking, at the White House, for Mexico to step up at the game,” Hassett said, “and I’ve actually heard some positive reports over the weekend, and, you know, there are heck a lot of options on the table if that doesn’t happen.”

“And the president mentioned, last week, shutting the border as one option,” he continued. “And one of the things that we at CEA have been doing is studying how one might take steps to secure our border that wouldn’t cause that kind of harm, and so right now I think that the correct message from the White House is just that we’re looking for Mexico to step up its game, and all the options are on the table.”

“Why does [Trump] keep describing tariffs as something that other countries pay into the US treasury, when they’re actually taxes paid by American consumers, why does he keep misstating that?” Feinberg pressed.

Rather than agree or disagree, Hassett punted the question back to Trump, telling Feinberg “You should talk to the president about it if you think he’s misstated something.”

“I can say that I’m sure that any government anywhere on earth would be upset if someone were to put a tariff on their sales into the US, that they wouldn’t like that,” Hassett added, but did not dispute the fact that tariffs are paid by U.S. consumers.

Watch the clip above, via C-Span.

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