© Greg Nash
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) sharply criticized on Friday President Trump's handling of North Korea, arguing that he's relying too much on China to solve the problem.
A day earlier, in an interview with Reuters, Trump said there is potential for "a major, major conflict" if North Korea refuses to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
"I don't think those were the right words, but even more so I think he's handling it all wrong," Schumer told CNN. "The only way to really stop North Korea from doing what it's doing, short of war, is to get China to fully cooperate."
He added that if he wants China to help pressure North Korea to back away from its nuclear program, he could use trade as leverage.
"Trade is their mother's milk," Schumer said. "So when the president is sort of nice to them and says he's backing off without doing anything, they're not going to help him on North Korea. They're not going to help us on trade."
Trump said during the campaign that he would label China as a currency manipulator but backed away from that pledge, a move that earned him the ire of Democrats, including Schumer.
Pressed on why China would help with North Korea if Trump slapped with them the label, he argued China would know "they couldn't push America around anymore."
"The great negotiator, I think, is not negotiating very well on this," he said.
Senators got a closed-door briefing on North Korea this week with top administration officials, including a brief appearance by Trump. Some senators said after the briefing that they expected China would be more cooperative on North Korea.
Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails The Memo: Like the dress or not, Ocasio-Cortez is driving the conversation again Ocasio-Cortez defends attendance of Met Gala amid GOP uproar MORE (R-Texas) said he was “cautiously optimistic that we are seeing early signs that China is helping and cooperating and reining in North Korea. ... Time will tell.”