Donald Trump’s Recent Policy Reversals Reflect Business Influence

Donald Trump’s Recent Policy Reversals Reflect Business Influence, by Eli Stokols.

Unlike in the early weeks of his presidency, when his senior staff were a close-knit group of former campaign aides who had helped craft his image as an insurgent in the capital, Mr. Trump has sided recently with the more pragmatic wing of his administration that espouses economic and foreign policies that are much more in line with the Washington establishment’s traditional view. …

Mr. Trump … changed course on whether China was manipulating its currency. During the campaign, he said it was, but on Wednesday he said it had stopped. And in a news conference later on Wednesday, the president said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is no longer “obsolete,” as he had repeatedly claimed last year. …

The change in direction and tone — he is no longer vociferously attacking China and Mexico, and has moderated his posts on Twitter — has come as Mr. Trump has reduced the role of his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart.com who personifies the economic nationalism that the president ran on. …

Speaking about Mr. Bannon’s role on Wednesday, Mr. Trump described his chief strategist as a “guy who works for me.” He went on to describe a “very good team” in the White House by pointing to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a former CEO of Exxon Mobil; Gary Cohn, who was second-in-command at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. before joining the White House as chairman of the National Economic Council; and Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor. …

Gary Cohn, was 2IC at Goldman Sachs, now works for Trump

Mexican officials have dealt extensively in the past three months with Mr. Kushner and Mr. Cohn … Another factor in the shift on Mexico has been the mid-February departure from the administration of one of the voices more hostile to Mexico: Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser. Mr. Flynn had been seen as one of Mr. Trump’s aides pushing for a harder line on Mexico. He was an open advocate for the border wall and said during a 2016 radio interview that “radical Islamist countries” were “cutting deals with Mexican drug cartels for some of what they call the ‘lanes of entry’ in our country.” He claimed to have seen Arabic signs in Mexico steering terrorists toward the U.S.

These signs are worrying some of Trump’s supporters:

“We didn’t elect Kushner to bring a New York establishment mentality to Washington,” said one campaign veteran aligned with Mr. Bannon and his political patrons, the Trump benefactors Robert and Rebekah Mercer. “The reason we worked so hard and gave so much money was because we were promised a nationalist revolution. We didn’t send him there to go native once he gets to Washington, D.C.”

Pat Caddell, a pollster for former President Jimmy Carter and a friend of Mr. Bannon, said Thursday that if Mr. Trump’s core voters get a “perception that he was misleading them, then he will have a real problem, because one day they’ll look up and say, ‘You lied to us, too. … If they reach that conclusion that he misled them and promised them and is just like everyone else after they voted for him, that’s deadly.” …

“Few are freaking,” Laura Ingraham, a conservative radio host who occasionally advises Mr. Trump, said in an interview on Thursday. “It’s early. And he’s done, and will do, many of the important things his voters want on the economy, trade and border enforcement.”

A reader comments:
Just wait for the Carbon Tax …  You can feel the smell of Goldman everywhere in White House now.