Stewart Gets Last-Minute Gift From Trump

Corey Stewart

Peter Galuszka

Corey A. Stewart, a conservative firebrand from Prince William County, is getting a last-minute going-away present from President Donald Trump.

As Trump’s administration comes to an end, Trump has created a position on trade at the U.S. Commerce Department that is just for him. In 2016, Stewart headed Trump’s Virginia election campaign before being fired. Stewart said that he was Trump before Trump was Trump.

Stewart is an international trade lawyer and is expected to strong arm Trump’s tough and confusing trade policies.

A special target is China, which Trump has castigated, with some justification, for cheating on business deals, fiddling with its currency exchange rates, growing its armed forces and trampling on human rights.

Stewart will toughen enforcement of Trump’s hostile trade relations, according to news reports.

Some trade experts wonder what the Stewart story is all about. According to Reuters, William Reinsch, a former Commerce undersecretary, said he viewed hiring as “peculiar” since he is filling a position that does not exist.

One obvious possibility is that Trump is rewarding Stewart for his loyalty. Stewart works as an international trade lawyer and his practice is likely to get a boost from his brief time with Trump who is expected to leave office Jan. 20 after clearly losing reelection this month.

Stewart first achieved political infamy a little more than 10 years ago when he pushed hardline and xenophobic policies against Hispanic immigrants. The former head of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors drew national attention for using visa enforcement issues to drive brown-skinned foreigners away.

Many Hispanics went to Prince William County to help with a home construction boom driven by cheap mortgages and lax scrutiny of borrowers. When the 2008-2009 recession came, the building boom collapsed. The Hispanics learned they were suddenly no longer welcome.

Stewart ran for the U.S. Senate but was trounced by Tim Kaine in 2018. During the race, he was quoted as saying, “I’m going to be the president’s number-one partner in the Senate.  I’m willing to be the bruiser – twisting arms, knocking heads and ridiculing other senators in order to pressure them to getting the president’s agenda through … To do whatever it takes.”

He also appeared with hard-right groups at the white supremacist rally that led to three deaths in Charlottesville in August 2017. A Minnesota native, Stewart also curiously resists removing Confederate memorials.

Although his time at Commerce will be short, there are serious questions about whether another bruiser is needed regarding China. Some officials there had advocated a balanced approach since the American and Chinese economies have become tightly linked. For example, most of the cell phones used in the U.S. are made in China.

The Chinese have long been known as tough traders but matters got much hotter when Xi Jinping came to head the Communist Party. The Chinese created concentration camps for about one million ethnic Uighurs in a western province.

In recent years, China has been much more aggressive at sea. It has claimed dominance over a number of islands off the coasts of Vietnam and the Philippines. As part of that strategy, Chinas has been building up its navy and other armed forces. This includes developing super-fast missiles that could seriously damage or sink American aircraft carriers that are the basis of U.S. defense in the area.

China has also cracked down on U.S. journalists and others reporting from the country by denying them visas and work permits. It demanded more control over Hong Kong and erected massive surveillance programs against its citizens.

Technology has become an issue as China has been accused of putting listening or tracking devices in the electronic gear or services it sells in the U.S. These could include cell phones, passenger cars it was trying to sell to the Washington Metro system and other products and services offered by Huawei, Zoom and TikTok.

William J. Holstein, a good friend of mine from my BusinessWeek days and a China expert, has written: “It seems we are headed down the slippery slope of technology dis-engagement between the United States and China. If you add up the trends it seems both governments are organizing themselves to prevent each other’s companies from sharing too much technology or too much investment.” (See

Bill is the author of several books including ones on the Japanese and American economies. His most recent is “The New Art of War: China’s Deep Strategy Inside the United States” (Brick Tower Press) that was published last year.

The book explores how China has a carefully coordinated policy of sending its people, notably students, to the U.S. to make contacts and become essentially spies who take their intimate knowledge of future American technology prospects back home. Such practices could be part of the animosity about Asians that seem to be on the rise.

Against this backdrop, as the Trump administration advanced, Commerce’s “even keel” advocates have been replaced by hard liners on China. Stewart is the latest example.

Bill Holstein thinks the Biden Administration will continue some of Trump’s policies. There needs to be a balance since Beijing and Washington are tightly interlinked. Being too aggressive could push China into military conflict.

One wonders why hard line tough guys like Stewart are needed during the next two months. What you need are smart diplomats.

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17 responses to “Stewart Gets Last-Minute Gift From Trump

  1. Some get fired two months early, some get hired just in time to brush up their resume…time will tell which is the one you want to be known for. He does know the topic. I always wondered why he didn’t make that a major theme instead of standing up for dead Confederates who tried to kill his own Midwestern ancestors….

  2. Mr. Galuszka,

    I know you absolutely despise President Trump, but that’s the best you’ve got? As tensions heat up regarding trade with China, the President brings on someone with experience as an international trade lawyer?

    I’ve not yet read the book referenced in the article, but from the top review it sounds like it provides a lot more ammunition to fault the Obama/Biden administration than that of President Trump.

    “As I write this review, the lead story of the New York Times reports that our government is considering restrictions on Chinese companies buying U.S. technology. Bill Holstein would say that comes ten years too late, but better late than never — and that’s only one of dozens of steps we need to take to protect ourselves.”

    “His book is a wake-up call to an insidious, ongoing, all-out attack by China on our economy, our society, our leadership in the world and our way of life. In Holstein’s telling — and I defy anyone to disprove it — Chinese officials, academics, scientists and businessmen are systematically hacking our communications, stealing our ideas and intellectual property, infiltrating our universities, technology companies and think-tanks, subverting our values and ideals, and working subtly to shape the world in their own authoritarian image.”

    But on the positive side, thanks for the book recommendation. I think that may be worth reading.

  3. CV item…

    Nov 20, 2020 to Jan 21, 2021 (2 months)
    TITLE: Special Secretary to the President of the United States of America on US-China Trade and Economic Relations
    DESCRIPTION: Responsibilities included thinking of a title for my position, and remembering not to quit my day-job, arranging desk for optimal view of secretarial pool, sharpening pencils,…

    • Weak tea.

      President Trump may indeed do something hugely scandalous on his way out, but this ain’t it. He’ll have to try lots harder to beat Bill Clinton’s Marc Rich scandal. Bubba’s still got him there, and by a long shot.

      This doesn’t even compare with Obama’s parting shot out the door.

      “With mere days left before President-elect Donald Trump takes the White House, President Barack Obama’s administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation’s intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about innocent people.”

  4. What bothers me is the continued refusal to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. Of course, so many “journalists” believe they are so brilliant and insightful that they can tell the peasants how the law should be and, therefore, what it is.

    The good thing is that media companies continue to crash and more and more “journalists” are becoming unemployed.

    If the progressives can select which laws should apply, why can’t the rest of us?

  5. “Such practices could be part of the animosity about Asians that seem to be on the rise.”

    Only the Democrats have a rising animosity against Asian-Americans. It’s the Democrats who want to dismantle Thomas Jefferson now that Asian- Americans have EARNED a disproportionate percentage of the slots available at America’s best public high school.

    It’s the Democrats in California who seek to repeal Proposition 209 which bans affirmative action in Cali. The impact of that is not lost on California’s Asian-Americans …

    “Opponents, especially activists in the Chinese American community, say they fear the measure will lead to a drastic reduction in the number of Asian American students at UC’s nine undergraduate campuses. Asian and Pacific Islanders now comprise 33% of UC undergraduates, the largest share of any racial group.”

    Closer to home, Manga Anantatmula ran on the Republican ticket against Gerry Connolly for Congress. In 2019 Gary Pan ran on the Republican ticket against Kathleen Murphy for a Virginia House of Delegates seat.

    In Texas and Florida Trump won far more Latino votes than expected.

    Could it be that hard working Asian-Americans and Latinos are getting sick of the welfare state architects in the Democratic Party?

    Side note: Both Asian-American candidates lost their races to lily white Democratic candidates. However, Proposition 209 was not repealed in California. Affirmative Action is still illegal.

  6. Ripper,
    Actually, you may have a point to some extent. About a year and a half ago, I went to Boston to help out as a volunteer with my college reunion.I was taken aback at home much resentment there was against rich Chinese. They were said to paying to have famous college buildings named after them and buying up prime property in condos overlooking the Charles River. They were driving up prrices so much that other people who are middle or up[per middle class are having to move far away.
    Nathan, of course, I despise Trump. He nauseates me.

    • Were they rich Chinese or rich Americans of Asian ancestry?

      I get the same sense in Europe but it’s about the Russians. A wealthy Belgian friend of mine was explicit. “The Russians are a plague”, he said. He meant Russian tourists and temporary workers rather than Belgians of Russian descent (if there are any).

    • “The Chinese created concentration camps for about one million ethnic Uighurs in a western province.”

      I do appreciate that you included a mention of the Uighurs. It needs more attention.

      There are a lot of completely bogus references to WWII Germany, but this one is justified and seldom gets the attention it deserves.

    • He sickens Americans.

    • The most virulently racist people I have ever met were in (and from) Boston Massachusetts. Hands down. No contest.

  7. Don, I should have made clear this did not refer to Chinese Americans who have been in that area for centuries. They are talking about new Chinese billionaires who need to somehow ship their boodles of cash out of China before the government takes it. So, they buy up names on college buildings. They buy lush condos which someone’s son or daughter can use for a while while they go to Harvard or MIT. Then they may be empty for months on end. It might be nice if the tenants contributed to the community but many don’t. It’s like using a five star private hotel.
    The new rich Russians do the same thing, especially in places like Miami. With new money comes a new arrogance. And, if you have been cooped up in a communist state forever, you tend to go a little wild when things change. Then, of course, Putin’s regime is a giant Mafia scheme. But that’s for another day.

  8. Russians used new slang in the 1990s — “dikaya vremya or “wild times.”

  9. Stewart is a moron. The Democratic Party should give him an award for inserting himself into state politics for so long.

  10. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Blah blah blabh. Cory S. is already in the political graveyard. Move on.

  11. Actually, it was the Irish Catholics in South Boston regarding the remarks I heard a year and a half ago. Not sure Chinese investors are interested in the neighborhood but I might be wrong. Haven’t been in that part of town since the Louise Day Hicks regime.

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