Steven Mnuchin embarrassed President Donald Trump after a mix-up regarding China’s cancelled farm visit and it may spell trouble for the treasury secretary, according to CNBC’s Jim Cramer.
“The president looked foolish. And I don’t think the president should be made to look like a fool.”
Let’s set the stage: Last week, Chinese trade delegates were meant to visit a Montana farm during a trip to the U.S. as the two sides laid the groundwork for another round of negotiations in the ongoing trade dispute. News broke that the representatives from Beijing suddenly cancelled their visit, sending markets downward.
Apparently, that’s not what actually happened. During a meeting at the United Nations on Monday that was also attended by U.S. President Donald Trump, Mnuchin said he actually asked the Chinese delegates to delay their farm visit because “the timing didn’t work.”
Trump was visibly shocked by the announcement and while stifling an uneasy laugh he asked Mnuchin, “Why was that our request, just out of curiosity?”
Mnuchin clarified that he, and other U.S. trade representatives, “didn’t want confusion around the trade issues.”
So Mnuchin clearly caught Trump off guard, and Cramer said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that if “The Apprentice” Trump were in that meeting, Mnuchin would’ve been out of a job on the spot.
“Squawk” co-host Carl Quintanilla asked for further clarification from Cramer: “Are you saying the Treasury secretary’s job is at risk? Is that your point, that Mnuchin is going to be punished somehow?”
“Oh yeah,” Cramer said. “What, are you going to make the president look bad in front of everybody?”
Cramer didn’t outright say Mnuchin should be fired, but he did question his choice to run with the “Chinese stiffed us” narrative throughout the weekend.
“The market went down because (Montana Farm Bureau official) Nicole Rolf told CNBC that the Chinese stiffed us. But we stiffed the Chinese,” Cramer said.
“Maybe we’re playing some new kind of hardball with the Chinese? I don’t think so because the president was not aware of it,” Cramer added. “The president looked foolish. And I don’t think the president should be made to look like a fool.”
In a final callback to Trump’s reality show hit Cramer predicted that “someone is going down the elevator here.”