Trump meant to undo sanctions announced on Chinese companies with tweet: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE reportedly meant to undo sanctions imposed by his own Treasury Department on two Chinese shipping companies with an abrupt tweet referring to North Korea, but officials convinced him to ease off as they sought to explain away the post.

The administration initially did not specify which sanctions Trump was referring to in a tweet last Friday, but Bloomberg reported Tuesday that there were no additional sanctions on Pyongyang in the works at the time of Trump’s announcement.


The news outlet said that Trump was in fact referring to penalties on Chinese shipping companies, but White House officials convinced him to back off and devised a “cover story” for the president’s tweet.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump tweeted Friday that he had "ordered the withdrawal" of "large scale Sanctions" announced by the U.S. Treasury Department against North Korea.

The tweet sparked widespread confusion, as Treasury had not announced sanctions that day. The department had publicized sanctions one day earlier on two Chinese shipping companies accused of helping North Korea evade existing sanctions.

A source familiar with the decision said at the time that Trump was not rolling back the announced sanctions, but instead was halting a new round of sanctions that had not yet been made public.

In a brief statement last Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attributed the decision to Trump’s relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” Sanders said, without specifying which sanctions Trump was reversing.

Trump's break with his own administration's policies underscores the president's penchant for making news via Twitter, as well as a rift between him and some of his top advisers on North Korea.

National security adviser John Bolton had tweeted last Thursday that the sanctions against the Chinese shipping companies marked a significant step toward ensuring North Korea remains isolated over its nuclear ambitions.

"Everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure they are not involved in North Korea’s sanctions evasion," Bolton said.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite Rubio criticizes reporters, Democrat for racism accusations against McCain MORE (R-Fla.) said on Sunday the mishap "shouldn't have happened that way," and suggested that it could cause countries to "ask for a double confirmation from the White House" about sanctions.