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Priebus says Trump chose trade war after telling advisers to 'fight out tariffs in front of me'

Reince Priebus on ABC

President Trump made up his mind about tariffs by telling two of his economic advisers to argue about it in front of him, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday, casting this decision-making process as dramatic but effective.

"I think what the president does — and he writes about it even in his own books — is he puts rivals around him, intellectually," Priebus said on ABC's This Week. "You have people like [Commerce Secretary] Wilbur Ross ... and [top economic adviser] Gary Cohn, and he puts those two guys in front of him and says, 'Okay, fight out tariffs in front of me.' And they fight it out; the media covers the fight, but ultimately the decision is made."

Ross is supportive of Trump's surprise announcement of heavy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports; Cohn is not. The commerce secretary said Sunday the president has no plans to permit any exemptions for friendly nations. Cohn, meanwhile, is expected by many to resign now that he has lost the tariffs fight.

Watch a clip of the Priebus interview below. Bonnie Kristian