Fox Business host Charles Payne said that President Trump appears to have outmaneuvered America’s adversaries, as immediate concerns over further Iranian escalation after the killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani subside and on the heels of the signing of phase one of the U.S. China trade agreement earlier this week.
“I think the Chinese miscalculated President Trump on trade because they listened to the Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable,” he continued. “I think Iran and [Iranian Commander Qassem] Soleimani and these folks, they underestimated Trump because … no political adviser would say to kill this guy in an election year.”
The president and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Wednesday signed the so-called phase one of the trade agreement, effectively halting a trade war that simmered for almost 18 months. It includes commitments from Beijing to halt intellectual property theft, refrain from currency manipulation, cooperate in financial services, and to purchase an additional $200 billion of U.S. products over the next two years.
“So right now, everything looks good,” noted Fox Business host Deirdre Bolton, “But if Iran does begin to escalate, does begin to strike back in a way we haven’t seen that can also change the president’s [reelection] chances.”
“That is a big risk,” said James Freeman, the assistant editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. “I know there’s been some criticism of him suggesting that this is some election-year gambit to ensure his reelection. If it is, it’s a bad decision on that score.”
“This is adding risk to what I think is a pretty good path for him toward reelection,” Freeman continued. “We’ve been talking about this huge advantage he has on the economy, and especially if he ends up running against Sanders or Warren.”
“I’m not sure any political adviser would tell him you want to add this enormous risk of a foreign conflict,” said Freeman. “So I think he appropriately responded, given attacks on our people, on our embassy. But… he’s made it clear he doesn’t want war with Iran.”
“He’s unpredictable and his political calculus is not based on what the experts are telling him — no matter where we are in the election,” argued Payne.
“To Charles’ point — Iran’s reaction to this has been pretty weak and lame,” said Fox Business host Elizabeth MacDonald.
“Now they’re saying, ‘We’re going to try to sue the president and the U.S. government for basically doing the drone strike on Soleimani. Now they’re talking about blaming the U.S. for bringing down the Ukraine plane, saying it was a cyberattack.”
On Wednesday, an Iranian state-run website reported that Tehran is investigating the possibility that an American cyberattack disabled the Iranian radar system before Iran accidentally downed the Ukranian airliner on Jan. 8.
“Even the partisans inside the Iranian government are not buying any of this… There’s a lot of weakness inside Iran,” said MacDonald.
“This is not going to be someone who’s going to be restrained by the political calculus, even when it comes to the stock market,” concluded Payne. “President Trump will do something ahead of the election if he thinks it’s right, even if he knows or is told it could temporarily hurt the market.”
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Fox News’ Julia Musto and Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.