Full disclosure: We’re really only taking the time to document Steve Mnuchin’s latest CNBC cameo because we wanted to provide a bit of comic relief for readers at an otherwise somber time.
Mnuchin naturally comes across as a deer in headlights on television, and that inadvertent propensity to appear terrified was made immeasurably funnier on Thursday thanks to the transition lenses Steve donned.
Standing on the White House lawn, Mnuchin’s adaptive eyewear was about one “transition” away from switching to full-on sunglasses mode as he regaled the network’s David Faber with the latest details on the trade talks.
“Very confident”, is how Mnuchin is feeling when it comes to getting the deal signed on time.
“It’s just going through what I would consider to be a technical, legal scrub, and we’ll be releasing the document and signing it in the beginning of January”, he said.
You’ll note that over the past several weeks, the administration has employed all manner of euphemisms to say, essentially, that the deal isn’t done yet. We’ve been in the “short strokes” (to quote Larry Kudlow) for what seems like forever.
Now, we’re down to the “legal scrub”.
China has given various indications since last week that Beijing intends to ramp up agricultural purchases, although there is still no final, definitive word from Xi on whether the Chinese in fact plan to commit to the $40 billion to $50 billion target the White House continues to insist is included in the interim agreement.
Although reports suggest Beijing is considering a variety of options for hitting the mark (including ethanol and diverting shipments currently routed through Hong Kong), many are still skeptical for obvious reasons.
Trump this week said the deal is around two weeks from being signed.
Bob Lighthizer over the weekend told cable news that everything is generally in order and suggested, ludicrously, that last Friday was, quote, “the most momentous day in trade history, ever”.
Asked by Faber whether the fact that Trump was impeached on Wednesday evening means anything will be changing for the “economic agenda”, an extremely uncomfortable-looking Mnuchin peered into the camera and said this:
Well first of all, it’s great to be here with you. And the answer is absolutely ‘no’. It’s been a terrific end of the year for the president’s economic program.
If you have any additional questions, you can watch the rest of the interview (embedded above) or better yet, write a letter to “Ron Vara”, who apparently has an e-mail account despite not being a real person.