Lighthizer was deputy U.S. trade representative during the Reagan administration. He is currently a partner at the powerhouse Wall Street law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom.
He has been a long-time supporter of Trump anti-free trade policies.
In 2011, he wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Times in support of Trump's protectionist views:
Mr. Trump’s GOP opponents accuse him of wanting to get tough on China and of being a protectionist. Since when does that mean one is not a conservative?...Bingo. Yet another Trump Cabinet nominee that apparently has no understanding of free trade or comparative advantage.
Skepticism toward pure free-trade dogma can be seen as well in more recent Republican leaders. The icon of modern conservatism, Ronald Reagan, imposed quotas on imported steel, protected Harley-Davidson from Japanese competition, restrained import of semiconductors and automobiles, and took myriad similar steps to keep American industry strong. The same can be said of Richard Nixon. In 1971, Nixon imposed a temporary tariff on all imports in response to what he perceived to be unfair foreign economic policies. No one would accuse Nixon of being a “liberal” - but his approach was in some ways even more trade-restrictive than what Mr. Trump has suggested.
In light of these facts, can anyone really think that getting tough with China is a “liberal” idea? Do you think that any of the conservatives and Republicans listed above would allow a foreign adversary to use currency manipulation, subsidies, theft of intellectual property and dozens of other forms of state-sponsored, government-organized unfair trade to run up a more than $270 billion trade surplus with us and to take U.S. jobs?..
[T]he recent blind faith some Republicans have shown toward free trade actually represents more of an aberration than a hallmark of true American conservatism. It’s an anomaly that may well demand re-examination in the context of critically important questions facing all conservatives on trade policy...
Given the current financial crisis and the widespread belief that the 21st century will belong to China, is free trade really making global markets more efficient? Is it promoting our values and making America stronger? Or is it simply strengthening our adversaries and creating a world where countries who abuse the system - such as China - are on the road to economic and military dominance? If Mr. Trump’s potential campaign does nothing more than force a real debate on those questions, it will have done a service to both the Republican Party and the country.
An ugly trade storm appears to be brewing courtesy of Donald J. Trump.
It will send global standards of living plunging.
Via The Financial Times:
In recent years Mr Lighthizer has been a leading advocate for a more muscular approach to trade among ideological conservatives, arguing for what has been the pro-trade Republican party to embrace protectionism.
“Modern free traders . . . embrace their ideal with a passion that makes Robespierre seem prudent,” Mr Lighthizer wrote in a 2008 New York Times op-ed.
“They embrace unbridled free trade, even as it helps China become a superpower. They see only bright lines, even when it means bowing to the whims of anti-American bureaucrats at the World Trade Organisation . . . They see nothing but dogma — no matter how many jobs are lost, how high the trade deficit rises or how low the dollar falls.”