Trump accuses China of election meddling

Trump accuses China of election meddling

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE accused China on Wednesday of attempting to meddle in the November midterm elections and claimed it does not want Republicans to win because of his actions on trade.

"Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election," Trump said during a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York. "They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade."

Trump did not provide evidence to back up his claims.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who sat near Trump at a round table inside the Security Council chamber, later denied the president's assertions.

"We did not and will not interfere in any country's domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China," Wang said through a translator.

Trump did not respond to Wang's denial.

A senior administration official later told reporters that China is “actively interfering in our political system," accusing Beijing of trying to use tariffs to hurt farmers in states and districts that voted for Trump. 
 
When pressed on the scope of China's efforts to meddle in U.S. politics, the official said the activities "go beyond" targeting farming districts with tariffs but offered few details. The official described the activity as "covert" and involving propaganda, cyber activity, and corruption, adding that the administration would share more "over time." 
 
The president's remarks amplify his administration's concern that China may join Russia and other nations in attempting to interfere in U.S. elections.

China was the only nation Trump called out for meddling during his remarks to the Security Council, even though Russia is viewed as a more serious threat. 

Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHillicon Valley: Facebook co-founder calls for breaking up company | Facebook pushes back | Experts study 2020 candidates to offset 'deepfake' threat | FCC votes to block China Mobile | Groups, lawmakers accuse Amazon of violating children's privacy Experts are studying mannerisms of 2020 candidates to help offset threat of 'deepfake' videos Bolton held unexpected meeting on Iran with top intel, military advisers at CIA: report MORE told reporters earlier this month that "we have seen signs" of meddling from "not just Russia, but from China, of capabilities, potentially from Iran and even North Korea."

The president has faced criticism that his administration has not done enough to stop foreign interference in U.S. election. He has repeatedly refused to definitively endorse the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential contest in order to aid his campaign.

Trump recently signed an executive order that allows the U.S. to impose additional sanctions on foreign actors the administration deems are responsible for election interference.

Trump's decision to link Chinese election meddling to his trade crackdown comes as he has sought to persuade the world that his "America First" policies are working, despite deep skepticism from other world leaders at the U.N.

Audience members laughed after Trump boasted of his administration's accomplishments during his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

Trump this month directed his administration to impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, in addition to $50 billion already subject to tariffs.

Beijing responded by slapping retaliatory tariffs on billions of dollars in American goods, putting the two nations on the brink of a full-blown trade war.

A Chinese government-backed media company purchased a four-page insert in the Des Moines Register last Sunday taking aim at Trump's trade policies in the corn- and soy-producing state.

"Duel undermines benefits of trade," one headline reads. 

 

Updated at 2:06 p.m.

Morgan Chalfant contributed to this story.