GOP sen: Possible deal with ZTE ‘a bargaining chip for Trump’

GOP sen: Possible deal with ZTE ‘a bargaining chip for Trump’
© Greg Nash

GOP Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) said Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpAl Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' Trump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report MORE's plans to possibly save Chinese company ZTE from economic sanctions is a "bargaining chip" that can be used to bring China back to the table on a trade deal.

In an interview with CNN's "New Day," Kennedy said that Trump is working on a "larger trade deal with China" and that his announcement on ZTE plays into that strategy.

"I think this is part of a chess game," Kennedy said. "Now, I haven't heard the president say this, but he's implied it. I think he's trying to negotiate a larger trade deal with China, and this is part of it."

"I think we really hurt ZTE [with the tariffs]," Kennedy continued. "My guess is [Chinese President] Xi Jinping has asked for a little relief and the president's doing a little negotiating, trying to get us a better trade deal."

The president tweeted on Sunday that he was looking for a way to get ZTE "back into business, fast," after the company was hurt by a U.S. decision to disallow companies from doing business with the Chinese telecom giant.

The Commerce Department blocked U.S. companies last month from doing business with ZTE, which it accused of violating a deal to pay a $1.2 billion fine for evading sanctions, CNN reports.

The U.S. and China have gone back and forth with dueling tariff announcements, causing experts to worry about the possibility of a global trade war.

Trump himself has promised that a trade war with China would be "easy" to win and "good" for the country.

“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Trump tweeted in March.