So Donald Trump is now publicly threatening to slap a 20 percent tariff on European cars in retaliation for Europe’s retaliation over Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum. I’m not going to bother writing yet again about how dumb this is. I just want to ask what the alleged justification will be. National security?
It’s obviously nonsense that American national security is endangered in any way by importing a million BMWs and Mercedes each year for rich people to tool around in. Nevertheless, that’s all Trump has, so that’s what he’s forced to use. But here’s the thing: Trump has this power because of a congressional statute. It’s not carved into the Constitution or the Ten Commandments. That means Congress can remove or restrain the power easily.
They won’t, of course. But why not?
And a question for whatever kind of lawyer specializes in this kind of thing: Is there any chance of a court putting a stop to this? I know that courts are traditionally very deferential to claims of national security, but where’s the limit? This obviously has nothing to do with national security, and Trump himself has said so on occasion. If it went into effect, could a car company sue to stop it?