(ATF) Corey Stewart, a political supporter of Donald Trump, has been appointed to a newly created senior post at the US Department of Commerce, in order to help push through hardline policies on China before the end of the administration, according to a Reuters report citing people familiar with the matter.
The administration intends to continue efforts to beef up restrictions on China, despite Trump having just over two months left in office.
Stewart’s appointment is expected to be used to reinforce the tougher policies, the sources told Reuters.
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Stewart, an international trade lawyer who lost a 2018 senate race in Virginia, will act as principal deputy assistant secretary for export administration, the sources said.
A Commerce spokesman declined to comment on personnel matters, and a White House representative declined to comment, as did Stewart himself.
Stewart was brought in by the President's personnel office, the sources said. That office is headed by John McEntee, who was tasked by Trump with ensuring loyalty among senior aides at cabinet agencies.
Stewart is expected to serve in the new role until the end of the Trump administration on January 20.
Stewart’s post is above Matthew Borman, deputy assistant secretary for export administration. Richard Ashooh, who had served as US assistant secretary for export administration for most of the Trump administration, resigned in July. Ashooh was known as a moderating voice on China issues.
Stewart ran against Democratic senator Tim Kaine in Virginia in 2018. He is an outspoken critic of illegal immigration and opposes the removal of Confederate monuments.
Trump has refused to accept the results of the presidential election he lost to Joe Biden, and has launched a series of legal challenges based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
Speculation that Trump might be distracted from his anti-China rhetoric due to his long-shot campaign to overturn the election results is proving to be unfounded.
Last week the Trump administration announced fresh steps to limit US investments in firms with links to the Chinese military, and the appointment of Stewart to a new role in the Commerce Department indicates that further steps are contemplated.
It is not clear whether any new actions will actually take effect before the shift to the incoming Biden administration, but further policy announcements and anti-China posturing seem likely before Trump leaves office.