Trump's economic populism
Hard to know what he was really thinking, or believed.
He apparently set out in the biggest brand building effort anywhere and then found that the GOP was ripe for the populist message- he mowed the field down like canarygrass.
He's not at all intelligent* but certainly has an innate guile as far as sensing others' vulnerabilities. Don't know if he really thought that the entire economic ailment was a matter of the trade deficit or just found that it resonate among the innumerate.
Anyway, that part is now in shreds** and he, and the GOP, are down to plain' 'ol Jim Crow era workings where the gubmint serves the wealthy and well connected through tax cuts and deregulation and enough white people are happy enough that they aren't black of brown to enable it. That's all the there that's there, and the die is cast.
*a pretty well established fact that among Good Americans, making money is a better marker for intelligence than any of that pointy headed stuff. One of his first successful gaslighting efforts was in creating the illusion that he had, rather than managing to not squander all of his Father's fortune-by being a deadbeat.
** the trade deficit widens, manufacturing is contracting and business investment (which was the magic tonic them job creators were supposed to bring on with their tax windfall) is cratering. For now The Consumer and The Gubmint are spending, keeping things afloat.