Schumer: Trump was ‘played’ by Chinese president
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says that China's president "played" President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE in recent bilateral trade talks where the countries reportedly agreed to an informal deal to lift sanctions from Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Sources familiar with the talks told the Journal that the deal, which is still being negotiated, would include the administration removing the current ban on U.S. companies selling phone components to ZTE.

"If these reports are true, the fines and board changes will do nothing to protect American national or economic security and are simply a diversion from the fact that we have lost," Schumer said in a statement. "President Xi has played President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin."

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Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMnuchin says White House, Pelosi have deal on top-line budget numbers The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Administration pushes back on quick budget deal: 'We have a way to go' MORE, a key negotiator in the talks, recently defended Trump for saying he wanted to get ZTE "back into business, fast."

Trump also defended his interest in removing sanctions from ZTE, noting in a tweet that "the large Chinese phone company buys a big percentage of individual parts from U.S. companies."

The ban on the company, which came after the Commerce Department said ZTE sold products to North Korea and Iran, came amid fears by U.S. intelligence and defense officials that the Chinese government could be using the company's devices for spying. 

The Journal said ZTE would be forced to make organization and management changes, as well as pay fines, in the deal under negotiation. China has also offered to remove tariffs on U.S. farm products in return, according to the report.

In a recent letter sent to Trump, nearly three dozen Senate Democrats called Trump's negotiations a "bad deal for American workers," saying it put Chinese jobs above American national security interests.