There was one tactic that worked: Trump announced that tariffs would be delayed until December 15.
There was a backlash in the middle of an overwhelming trade war that Trump insists will eventually benefit Americans – and will demonstrate his toughness toward China. And while it made the markets soar on Tuesday, gains were erased a day later amid fears of an imminent recession.
He relies on a team that is often at odds with each other and has undergone several changes over the last several months. Trump is now surrounded less and less by those who led his administration's economic policies in the first two and a half years as worries of a recession grow within the West Wing.
Trump and his campaign are counting on a robust economy to get him reelected. Voters who approve of Trump's accomplishments in office say the # 1 reason is because of the economy.
With reelection in mind, Trump boasted about the recent performance of the stock market during a campaign riot in New Hampshire on Thursday night, claiming that even Americans who dislike him have "no choice but to vote" for him, or else will the economy collapses.
"You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401 (k), everything is going to be down the tubes," he told the crowd. "Whether you love me or hate me, you have to vote for me."
Evolving Economic Team
The importance of the economy to his political future has long been an underlying theme of Trump's discussions with his team, say people familiar with the talks, even though the composition of that team is changing over time.
His financial adviser Larry Kudlow, who is approaching two years on the job, is expected to leave in the coming months. His top economist Kevin Hassett came out with a promise to be "a resource … from the outside." He cites complaints from Assistants about Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross according to officials.
Trump has even lashed out at one of his most loyal cabinet secretaries, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, over stalled trade talks with China, officials said. Mnuchin is dealing with his own relocation at the Treasury Department, with several top aides leaving in recent months.
Trump has since turned to more hardline helpers such as Peter Navarro, hardline trade and production adviser, who defends his tough move on China and assures him there will be an economic rebound.
Trump has shown affiliation for aides with an eye to the political implications of economic decisions rather than in-depth knowledge of economic policy, the people said. He has also been annoyed at briefings when the discussion becomes too technical or weed.
Mnuchin, who led the finance operation for Trump's campaign, remains the president's closest financial adviser, according to people familiar with the team's dynamics, even as Trump complains about the lack of progress in trade talks that Mnuchin oversees.
It is partly due to his lifetime in administration, the people said. But Trump also views his success in the private sector as an implicit testimony to his financial advice.
When he was looking for a replacement for Gary Cohn, his first director of the National Economic Council, he was taken by Kudlow, who was a pundit when he defended Trump's position on television.
Trump has also praised Navarro for his at times combative appearances on television defense duties, including this week.
A team sometimes at odds
Trump spends the week on his Bedminster golf course, but his financial team is scattered elsewhere. Navarro is in Washington while Ross is in New York. Mick Mulvaney, the former budget manager who is now acting chief of staff, joined Trump in New Jersey.
Trump's top economic adviser, acting Council of Economic Advisers chief Tomas Philipson, has only been in the top role for a few weeks after the departure of Hassett, who often defended the administration's position on television. Hassett's departure was seen as creating a void for those tasked with explaining the White House economic house, said a White House official.
And Mnuchin has worked from Washington, but has largely stayed out of public view. He joined a phone call between Trump and CEOs of JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup on Wednesday as markets fell around amid fears of the recession.
Instead, Navarro has been the one who defended the administration's position in public throughout the week. He is a hardliner for China, and he has often countered more mainstream views of economic policy in debates in the administration, and has clashed with Mnuchin during China's trade talks.
On the airwaves, Navarro has reinforced Trump's stance that market suites are to blame for the Federal Reserve, which both Trump and Navarro believe does not cut interest rates fast enough.
It is not a view universally held in the West Wing, where many economic aides privately acknowledge the ongoing trade wars, are more to blame for today's economic conditions than anything else. But in conversations, most White House officials still cite the Fed as a contributing factor, knowing that it is the president's view.
The White House plans to have Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, appear on some Sunday mornings to further explain the administration's position. And Vice President Mike Pence will make comments at the Detroit Economic Club next week, outlining the administration's financial positions.
An administrative official said that Trump has been in regular contact with members of his financial team – including Kudlow, Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer – from his New Jersey vacation this week.
While some officials described Trump as shaken by the recent recession fear that saved the market on Wednesday, others said he did not seem deeply concerned that a downturn could materialize over the next two years.
Instead, he has been more focused on what such an economic event – or the appearance of an imminent one – might have on his political outlook. . He expressed concern that worsening opposition to trade could hurt the economy and throw out his chances of reelection.
Although Trump's frustration over the markets is primarily directed at the Federal Reserve, people familiar with the matter say he has also expected the team to be tasked with negotiating a trade deal with China so far has not been able to sign a deal deal.
Such a meeting happened last week when the new tariffs that Trump threatened to impose on China caused uproar among retailers. During the meetings, Trump's advisers warned him that CEOs were prepared to vote back on the tariffs, which should have come into effect in September and would have affected popular Christmas gifts such as cell phones and electronics.
The advisers appealed to Trump's affiliation for Christmas, according to the celebrities. Trump has boasted of gathering crowds he saved the holiday from a politically correct "Christmas war."
Trump gave up his team to find a way to avoid setbacks in the holiday trade, and advisers recommended deferring duties until December 15, when the products on the store shelves for the Christmas shopping season had already been shipped.
The decision to postpone new tariffs on China came without concessions from Beijing.
Namro spoke on Fox News Wednesday, calling Navarro the tariff back – of Trump's "Christmas present to the nation."
At the meetings, Trump also expressed hopes that the move would speed US-China trade talks, which have been stalling since his meeting with Xi in June, much to Trump's frustration.  But it doesn't seem to have happened. On Thursday, China threatened to retaliate if the United States issues new tariffs on $ 300 billion of Chinese manufactured products. A statement from the Ministry of Finance did not mention the delay.
CNN's Pamela Brown contributed to this report.