The draft legislation would empower the president to ignore global trade rules set by the World Trade Organization, Axios said. He said he wasn't "planning anything now" but if the WTO doesn't treat the USA properly, "we will be doing something".
"They have been treating us very badly for many, many years and that's why we were at a big disadvantage with the WTO", Trump told reporters at the White House.
Trump's comments came in response to an 11-page European Union letter sent to the commerce department on Friday threatening that the global community would impose tariffs on up to $290bn of United States products if Trump moves forward with tariffs on foreign autos, according to the Financial Times. American consumers pay for tariffs.
The leaked draft emerged a few days after Axios reported that Trump has repeatedly told White House officials that he wants to withdraw the USA from the WTO. CNN confirms the existence of the leaked proposal, called the United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act.
These are a prohibition on nations setting different tariff rates for different countries outside of free trade agreements, and the established tariff ceiling that WTO members have agreed to. Most officials involved in the bill's drafting, with the exception of hardline trade adviser Peter Navarro, think the bill is unrealistic or unworkable, with a source calling the proposal "insane" and adding that "Congress would never give this authority to the president".
It would also allow "reciprocal tariffs", so Mr Trump could impose U.S. tariffs on particular goods equal to the tariff charged on United States exports of those goods by another country. "The only way this would be news is if this were actual legislation that the administration was preparing to roll out, but it's not", says Lindsay Walters.
"And we're not planning anything now, but if they don't treat us properly we will be doing something", he said.
USA officials in Geneva, home of the WTO, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. Trump reportedly was briefed on the working draft in May.