Speed Reads

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How a Jared Kushner Amazon search led to the looming trade war

Economist Peter Navarro has been described as "the man who pushed [National Economic Council head] Gary Cohn out of the White House" and Politico has suggested he "could lead us into a global depression — or worse." A relatively minor character before President Trump announced a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, Navarro could very well be credited with making those plans a reality.

While the tariffs are in line with what Trump has long touted, Navarro is the "hard-liner who is seen by outsiders as enabling and egging on Trump's most nativist and nationalistic instincts," The Washington Post writes, even as other aides and prominent Republicans have made desperate and unsuccessful counterarguments against going forward with the plan.

How Navarro ended up in the White House in the first place is its own odd story. On Wednesday, The Washington Post highlighted a 2017 report at Vanity Fair that explains Navarro was brought into the fold by … Jared Kushner's Amazon search:

At one point during the [2016 presidential] campaign, when Trump wanted to speak more substantively about China, he gave Kushner a summary of his views and then asked him to do some research. Kushner simply went on Amazon, where he was struck by the title of one book, Death by China, co-authored by Peter Navarro. He cold-called Navarro, a well-known trade-deficit hawk, who agreed to join the team as an economic adviser. (When he joined, Navarro was in fact the campaign's only economic adviser.) [Vanity Fair]

You know what they say: Trade wars have been started over weirder things.