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Updated May 21, 2024, 5:30am EDT
business

Imprisoned ex-Trump aide Peter Navarro predicts Fed Chair’s ouster and ‘mass deportations’ in a second presidential term

Al Lucca/Semafor
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The Scoop

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell would be gone in the first 100 days of a second Donald Trump term that would also include mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and more tariffs on Chinese goods, former White House economic adviser Peter Navarro told Semafor from the federal prison where he is serving a four-month sentence for refusing to cooperate with a congressional probe into the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol.

Navarro, who directed Trump’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy until 2021, has remained loyal to the former president. Donald Trump Jr. and other members of the candidate’s inner circle have visited Navarro at the minimum-security facility in Miami where he is being held, a signal that he could have a prominent role in another Trump administration.

Navarro laid out the former president’s economic priorities in an exclusive interview, writing his responses on the email system at the prison’s law library, where he works.

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Navarro said he hopes to speak at the Republican National Convention if he can make it out in time, with his scheduled release date of around July 17 falling in the middle of the gathering. He wants to tout Trump’s economic agenda, laid out in a book he has been wrapping up in prison, The New MAGA Deal, which will be released the week of the convention.

His time behind bars hasn’t tempered Navarro, an anti-China hardliner who battled with more globally minded Wall Street executives who joined the Trump administration. He continues to bash Gary Cohn, Trump’s ex-director of the National Economic Council, and former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, both Goldman Sachs alumni.

Navarro shared his views on Trump’s unfinished business, who should lead the Fed, and what he thinks about JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. The correspondence has been edited for length.

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The View From Peter Navarro

Gina Chon: What are Trump’s economic priorities if he wins?

Peter Navarro: The New MAGA Deal documents 100 actions in 100 days. At the top of the trade list is Trump’s Reciprocal Trade Act, originally introduced by Congressman Sean Duffy in 2019. If countries refuse to lower their tariffs to our levels, the president would have the authority to raise our tariffs to theirs. It is the most common sense route to balancing our trade deficit and thereby stimulating economic growth, and strengthening the US dollar. It should appeal to protectionists and free traders alike.

Chon: What didn’t get done in the last term that would be back on the table?

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Navarro: One of the biggest pieces of unfinished Trump business is to solidify Buy American, Hire American government procurement, and reshore our private sector supply chains and manufacturing back to US soil. We are dangerously vulnerable to foreign coercion in everything from defense applications and tech, to pharmaceuticals.

Trump will also quickly seal the border and begin mass deportations. Biden has imported a wave of crime and terrorism along with an uneducated mass that drives down wages of Black, brown, and blue-collar Americans. Blacks and Hispanics, particularly males in the workforce, are flocking to Trump in droves.

Chon: What are the plans for the Fed and current Chair Jay Powell?

Navarro: Powell was Mnuchin’s folly — Powell raised rates too fast under Trump and choked off growth. To keep his job, Powell then raised rates too slowly to contain inflation under Biden. My guess is that this punctilious non-economist will be gone in a hundred days one way or the other. Former Council of Economic Advisers Chair Kevin Hassett would be a logical replacement; former CEA Chair Tyler Goodspeed would be a bold choice.

Chon: Is there a place for someone like JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon in a Trump administration?

Navarro: I’m sure if Jamie raises $100 million for Trump 2024 and doesn’t hedge his Biden bet, there may be an ambassadorship somewhere in Asia where JPMorgan helped offshore millions of American jobs.

Frankly, [Blackstone CEO] Steve Schwarzman’s unforgiveable alleged unregistered foreign lobbyist activities in weakening the China trade deal has made it difficult for those of us in Trump World to trust that Wall Street denizens like Dimon, [Citadel CEO] Ken Griffin, and Schwarzman will ever represent Main Street.

Chon: What about people like Gary Cohn or Steven Mnuchin, whom you labeled as “globalists,” returning in a second Trump term?

Navarro: Gary Cohn did everything he could to block Trump’s trade agenda, particularly steel and aluminum tariffs. When [former Commerce Secretary] Wilbur Ross and I finally outmaneuvered him, he quit in a huff — good riddance.

Mnuchin did everything he could as well to stop or soften Trump’s trade agenda and regularly clashed with Ross, Lighthizer, and myself. Together, Cohn and Mnuchin prove, as I wrote in my Taking Back Trump’s America book, that Bad Personnel is both Bad Policy and Bad Politics.

Chon: Trump wants to ratchet up tariffs on Chinese products, which he started when he was president. Given the challenges the Fed is facing in tamping down inflation, won’t tariffs make the problem worse?

Navarro: The imposition of tariffs on Communist China had ZERO impact on inflation. In a general equilibrium economic world, tariffs over time boost growth and real wages; they are not inflationary.

Chon: Nippon Steel’s effort to buy US Steel is facing challenges in Washington. Should that deal go through?

Navarro: If Trump had been president, Cleveland Cliffs would have consummated its merger with US Steel and created a real American national champion in the world market. The Nippon deal is bad for America.

Chon: Are there US companies or industries that you think are un-American or acting against American interests?

Navarro: American multinational corporations naturally want to offshore American jobs in their search for cheap, sweatshop labor and pollution havens. That’s why God created tariffs.

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Correction

An earlier version of this story misstated the date of the Republican National Convention, which is in July.

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