Over the course of just one day, President Trump declared different positions than he took during the campaign on four issues.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal and at a press conference on Wednesday, President Trump declared that China is not a currency manipulator, entertained the possibility of re-appointing Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve, asserted that NATO is a relevant alliance and expressed a favorable view of the Export-Import Bank.
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer portrayed the shifts as reactions to changing circumstances rather than an ideological modification.
"If you look at what's happened, it's those entities or individuals, in some cases, or issues evolving towards the president's position," said Spicer.
Every one of those positions represents a departure from stances Trump took as a presidential candidate.
China as currency manipulator
As a candidate for president, Trump labeled China “our enemy” in his 2015 book “Crippled America” and pledged to declare the country a currency manipulator on his first day in office.
He reiterated this position in October 2016, saying: “I will direct my secretary of the treasury to label China a currency manipulator. China is a currency manipulator,” the then-Republican nominee for president said. “What they have done to us by playing currency is very sad.”
But on Wednesday, the president said something very different.
“They’re not currency manipulators,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
As recently as January, Trump expressed doubt about the continued effectiveness of NATO.
“I took such heat, when I said NATO was obsolete. It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror," Trump said in a January interview with the Times of London and the German publication Bild. "I took a lot of heat for two days. And then they started saying Trump is right."
But on Wednesday, the president offered his firmest statement yet in support of the cross-Atlantic alliance, saying he no longer holds his previous view that it is “obsolete.”
“I said it was obsolete; it's no longer obsolete,” the president said during a joint press conference at the White House on Wednesday with the NATO secretary general.
He specifically pointed to NATO's having taken a more active role in combating terrorism as showing its continued relevance.
“It’s my hope that NATO will take on an increased role in supporting our Iraqi partners in their battle against ISIS,” the president said.
As a candidate, President Trump accused Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen of blatant partisanship for, he said, keeping interest rates “artificially” low to help President Obama.
“She’s keeping [rates] artificially low to get Obama retired. Watch what is going to happen afterwards. It is a very serious problem,” the president said during the campaign in September. “And to a certain extent, I think she should be ashamed of herself."
But now that he’s in the Oval Office, Trump said his impressions of the reserve chairwoman have altered.
“I like her, I respect her,” Mr. Trump told the Wall Street Journal, noting that the two have sat and talked in the Oval Office.
Asked by the Journal if Yellen is “toast” when her term ends next year, the president even entertained the idea that he may keep her on in her role leading the Fed. "No, not toast,” he said.
The president also changed his position on the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which, as a candidate, he declared he would oppose.
"I don't like it because I don't think it's necessary,” Trump told Bloomberg in August 2016. “It's a one-way street also. It's sort of a featherbedding for politicians and others, and a few companies. And these are companies that can do very well without it. So I don't like it. I think it's a lot of excess baggage. I think it's unnecessary. And when you think about free enterprise it's really not free enterprise. I'd be against it."
On Wednesday, the president said the bank, the official export credit agency of the U.S. government, is actually “a very good thing.”
"Instinctively, you would say, ‘Isn’t that a ridiculous thing?' But actually, it’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money, it could make a lot of money,” the president told The Wall Street Journal.