Charles Krauthammer explains it:
The way that the president has presented it is really remarkable. He doesn’t lie. He is too smart. He deceives.
This is incredibly deceptive. He said, as we just heard, he says — all I’m doing here is enforcing trade agreements. That would make you think that the Chinese have done something wrong, that they had dumped a product or they had undercut or subsidized. In fact, not.
This provision in the tariffs on tires are treated entirely by the U.S. Trade Act section 425 which allows the slapping on of a tariff simply in response to a surge of imports, even if it’s not illegal or done underhandedly — simply a surge. We have had a surge of imports. So it is not as if the Chinese are in violation of anything.
What is the effect of it [the tariff]? It is only done in the name of unions. The tire companies are against the tariffs.
What a time to be starting a trade war.