Fear - Trump in the White House
Bob Woodward
Contributed by Larisa Brooke
Chapter 19

Trump now wants to withdraw from NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement. In fact, he wants an executive order by Friday. However, Porter claims that the rules do not allow such an approach, and there is a need for a 180-day termination notice (Woodward 138). Others present during the meeting remain silent, thus making Trump more persistent. Porter meets with McMaster who agrees to support him in ensuring that they maintain their current position in NAFTA (Woodward 139). On the other hand, Navarro is pushing Trump saying that the staffing process is the reason for the delayed actions. Trump, therefore, calls Porter and asks him to ensure that things work out fast. Following this, Porter sees Cohn and holds a meeting with the secretaries who have an influence on NAFTA.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue informs the president about the dangers of withdrawing (Woodward 139). Nonetheless, Trump still wants a withdrawal and asks for the 180-termination notice. Porter and Cohn have to stall the process, and Cohn takes the document from Trump’s desk. They know that he could easily order another one, but they also understand that Trump needs a trigger to remember things, if it is out of sight, then it is out of his mind (Woodward 140). Trump also touches on steel tariffs and they discuss on it in the Oval Office in the White House (Woodward 142).


Trump’s obsession in exiting from trade agreements stems from his worries with the trade deficits. He knows that the nation benefits from the deals, but he cannot tolerate and unfair trades. For this reason, he is restless. He believes that the only solution is withdrawing from the agreements, thus avoiding any deficits or trade issues. Although different individuals such as Navarro agree with the President, there are those who find no sense in the idea. These people know that the country gains a lot from the agreements and exiting from one like NAFTA may hurt the country’s economy at an adverse level. Porter has a great depth of knowledge concerning the advantages of NAFTA, and his actions in presenting Perdue to Trump are an effort to make the President understand. Despite the efforts, Trump is firm with his decision and making him change his mind is difficult. The only option is to delay the process, and this works effectively although it does not eliminate the problem.

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