White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday slammed top Democrat Chuck Schumer for attacking President Donald Trump’s plan to ease penalties on Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp. as part of a possible trade deal.
“Sen. Schumer is probably not somebody this White House is ever going to take advice from on how to negotiate or get a good deal on anything,” Sanders said of the Senate majority leader at the daily press briefing. “Particularly based on his track record and, certainly, I think his weakness when it comes to China.”
Schumer, the fourth-term New Yorker, on Tuesday attacked as “a wet noodle” a proposal by President Trump that would roll back a seven-year ban on U.S. chipmakers and other companies from selling components to ZTE, which makes smartphones and telecommunications networking gear.
In return for the U.S action, China would eliminate tariffs on American agriculture or agree to buy more farm products from the United States.
Schumer ripped Trump for putting national security at risk for minor trade concessions, adding possible remedies — including changes to the company’s board of directors — were inadequate.
Schumer and other senators said they would derail the Trump plan.
The Commerce Department imposed the ban in April after it determined ZTE had broken an agreement after it pleaded guilty to shipping U.S. goods and technology to Iran.
The ban has threatened the viability of Beijing’s second-largest telecoms maker by cutting off access to companies that supply as much as 30 percent of its components.
Suppliers include some of the biggest U.S. technology companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which licenses its Android operating system to ZTE, and chipmaker Qualcomm Inc.
Sanders, however, noted Trump was being firm with China and was working to reduce this country’s $335 billion annual trade gap with Beijing.
“We finally have a president that’s actually calling out China on their unfair trade practices — and not just calling them out, but doing something about it and is aggressively pushing forward in negotiations, something we haven’t seen in decades,” she said.
“So, Sen. Schumer would be the last person we would call and ask on how to make a deal.”
Sanders also disclosed that no White House personnel, including chief of staff John Kelly, will be attending the Thursday briefing he brokered with two Republican House committee chairmen and intelligence officials on the Russia probe.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California and Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, will meet with leaders of the Justice Department, FBI, and the intelligence community after requesting classified material on the probe for weeks.
Those executive branch officials scheduled to attend are Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan, Sanders said.
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