Trump: 'There is no deal' to help Chinese company ZTE

Trump: 'There is no deal' to help Chinese company ZTE
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE said Tuesday that there is no deal to save Chinese company ZTE, which is facing heavy fines and sanctions in the United States. 

Trump told reporters that he is doing Chinese President Xi Jinping a favor by looking into how to breathe life back into the company that the Commerce Department has effectively shut down.  

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"President Xi and I have a great relationship, but there is no deal," Trump said at the White House. 

"We will see what happens. We are discussing deals. We’re discussing various deals." 

Reuters reported Tuesday that the U.S. and China were closing in on a deal to lift a ban on U.S. companies selling components to ZTE. 

“As far as ZTE is concerned [Xi] asked me to look into it and I am doing that,” Trump said during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. 

“And don’t forget for the ones that say, 'Oh gee, maybe Trump is getting a little bit easy. ZTE, we closed it. It wasn’t another administration, it was this administration that closed it.”

Trump suggested that ZTE pay a fine of upward of $1.3 billion, hire new management and a new board of directors, tighten security rules and be required to buy a large percentage of their parts and equipment from American companies.

ZTE has been fined nearly $1.2 billion for violating an agreement to not ship products to Iran and North Korea.

The potential of an agreement with ZTE has angered members of Congress, who warn doing business with the company is a threat to national security.

The Senate Banking Committee approved an amendment Tuesday that would block Trump from easing sanctions on ZTE without first certifying to Congress that the company is complying with U.S. law. The move comes a week after the House Appropriations Committee approved a similar provision.

Amid broader trade negotiations with China, Trump in a tweet on May 13 expressed concern that ZTE was being driven out of business.

He wrote that he had ordered federal officials to get the Chinese telecom firm "back into business, fast."

“Too many jobs in China lost,” Trump wrote. 

On Tuesday, he expressed concern for U.S. jobs because ZTE sources many parts for its phones from American companies. 

“When you do that you’re really hurting American companies,” he said. 

Trump said during the meeting with Moon that he wants to strike a “great deal for the United States” with Beijing, but that he wants "it to be a very good deal for China, too, if that’s possible.” 

“It may not be possible,” Trump said. 

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDem lawmaker calls for cryptocurrency probe after Mueller indictments Meet the woman who is Trump's new emissary to Capitol Hill On The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment MORE endured a grilling from Senate appropriators on Tuesday who wanted assurances that the Trump administration is considering the security issues in its approach to ZTE. 

“I can assure you that whatever the Commerce Department decides, the intelligence community has been part of the briefings and we will make sure that we enforce national security issues,” he said during a hearing on Capitol Hill. 

Mnuchin said the intention was not to put ZTE out of business. 

“The objective was not to put ZTE out of business, the objective was to make sure they abide by our sanctions programs,” he said.

Updated at 1:52 p.m.