BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Republican U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong isn’t sold on President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on Mexican imports aimed at cracking down on the surge of Central American migrants trying to cross the U.S. border.
Armstrong, the state’s lone congressman and an ardent Trump supporter, is one of a growing number of Republicans opposing the tariff threat they believe could harm American consumers and manufacturers.
Trump has threatened to impose a 5% tax on all Mexican goods beginning Monday. The taxes eventually would increase to 25% and remain there “until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory,” the White House said.
Armstrong said he has not seen a concrete plan that would prove the tariffs would do anything to curb illegal immigration.
“I’m a strong supporter of the president but the administration is going to have to sit down with me and explain to me how this would do what it’s supposed to do,” Armstrong said Thursday afternoon at a downtown Bismarck coffee shop.
Armstrong, an attorney from Dickinson, former head of the North Dakota GOP and state senator, breezed to a victory in November in a state where Trump, who carried the state by 36 points in 2016, remains popular.
While in lockstep with Trump on everything from building a border wall to taking regulatory burdens off states, Armstrong disagrees with the president over whether special counsel Robert Mueller should testify before Congress on his probe into Russian election interference. Trump opposes Democrats’ goal of bringing Mueller before the House Judiciary Committee, where Armstrong is a member.
Armstrong said the “report speaks for itself” and reveals no findings of criminal conspiracy against Trump. Armstrong said he has no problem with Mueller testifying to “get it out and get it out over with.”
Armstrong believes the public and especially constituents in his ultra-conservative state have grown tired of calls to impeach Trump and a threat by Democrats to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress by failing to provide a full version of Mueller’s report.
Armstrong said Barr would have violated the law by providing the full report.