Trump advisers fervently defend tariffs ...

WASHINGTON — The White House continued to sow uncertainty on Sunday about the stiff tariffs President Donald Trump said he would impose on steel and aluminum imports as key advisers defended the policy but left room for the president to change his plans.

Peter Navarro, an adviser and the architect of many of Trump's campaign trade promises, confirmed on Sunday that the president would not exclude any country from the tariffs but said individual companies could apply for exemptions. Trump, meanwhile, engaged in a weekend-long tweet storm defending his policies and saying the United States had been on the "losing side" of global trade deals for too long.

Trump rattled stock markets last week with his impromptu announcement that he would impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports and as business executives said the president would make no country exceptions.

"As soon as he starts exempting countries, he has to raise the tariff on everybody else," Navarro said on "Fox News Sunday." "As soon as he exempts one country, his phone starts ringing from the heads of state of other countries."

But Navarro left room for change in the timing of the tariffs, which the president said would be signed this week. "Toward the end of the week," Navarro said in a separate appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," when asked when the tariffs would be announced. "At the latest, it would be the following week."

Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, also appeared to leave room for the president to change his mind.

"Whatever his final decision is, is what will happen," Ross said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "What he has said he has said. If he says something different, it'll be something different."

"If he for some reason should change his mind, then it will change," Ross added, noting that he had no reason to believe that the president would do so.

The White House's plan continued to face fierce criticism, including from Republicans who believe free trade is in the interest of the economy. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., criticized the tariffs for falling more heavily on U.S. allies than on China, which he said had earlier flooded the global market with steel.

"You're letting China off the hook," Graham said on CBS' "Face the Nation."


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