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The Tough Negotiator Turning Trump’s Trade Bluster Into Reality

(Shawn Donnan – Bloomberg)

The diorama in the corner of Robert Lighthizer’s office looks like any other Revolutionary War scene until you learn the story behind it. Portrayed crossing the Delaware ahead of the 1776 Battle of Trenton is George Lighthizer, the Bavarian-born ancestor of Donald Trump’s trade czar and a volunteer in George Washington’s Continental Army. The message to visitors is clear: Patriotism goes way back in the Lighthizer clan.

“We’ve probably got some horse thieves in there,” Jim Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative’s older brother, says of the family lineage. “But there’s no traitors.”

Wilbur Ross, the investor and turnaround king who is secretary of Commerce, and Steven Mnuchin, the ex-investment banker who heads the U.S. Department of the Treasury, have been the TV-friendly generals on the front line of Trump’s escalating trade war with China. But the official increasingly in charge of translating the president’s often vague and impulsive protectionism into a battle plan is his trade representative.

Little known outside Washington trade circles, the 70-year-old Lighthizer, who declined requests for an interview, is an ascending figure in the Trump administration. He’s also a longtime China hawk who has spent years preparing for an economic war with Beijing. Click here to read more.