Trump talks tariffs and taxes, calls Republican host city ‘horrible’

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts Thusday as he is applauded by Republicans at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) headquarters in Washington. (Evelyn Hockstein/REUTERS)

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump criticized U.S. aid to Ukraine and suggested raising tariffs to replace the U.S. income tax on a Thursday visit to Capitol Hill where he also called the city hosting his party’s presidential convention “horrible.”

In separate meetings with Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate, Trump sought to mend divisions ahead of the Nov. 5 election that could see his party win control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.


Trump floated the idea of reducing the U.S. income tax and replacing it with tariffs, said Representatives Thomas Massie and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Participants said he shook hands with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, despite their frosty relationship, and encouraged hard-liner Greene to “be nice” to House Speaker Mike Johnson, after her failed attempt to depose him.

“There’s tremendous unity in the Republican Party,” Trump said after the Senate meeting.

But Republicans scrambled to explain after several media outlets reported that Trump privately called Milwaukee a “horrible” city, roughly one month before he is due to receive his party’s presidential nomination there.

That could potentially alienate residents of the biggest city in Wisconsin, one of a handful of competitive states that will determine the outcome of the election.

A campaign spokesperson and several Republican lawmakers said Trump was referring to what they said were the city’s problems with crime and voter fraud. A nonpartisan audit of the 2020 election in Wisconsin found no evidence of irregularities.

Tips and tariffs

Trump also urged lawmakers to cut taxes on income from tips, an idea he first floated on Sunday to appeal to service workers, multiple lawmakers said.

Trump used tariffs aggressively during his 2017-2021 term in office, placing levies of up to 25% on a wide range of Chinese products as one of many efforts to thwart competition.

Senator Mike Rounds said that cutting taxes on tips could help Republicans win over working-class voters.

“If there was something we could do to really energize that particular segment of the population, that might be a real popular thing to do,” Rounds told reporters.

Trump also criticized a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine that recently passed with Republican support, lawmakers said.

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