Dem warns Trump: No 'secret side deals' to win China's support

Dem warns Trump: No 'secret side deals' to win China's support
© Greg Nash

The top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE on Monday for saying he is working with China’s president to help a telecommunications firm sanctioned by the U.S. government.

In a tweet from the committee minority’s account, Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: House approves 3 billion defense bill | Liberal sweeteners draw progressive votes | Bill includes measure blocking Trump from military action on Iran CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries Justice Democrats issues 3 new endorsements for progressive candidates MORE (D-N.Y.) suggested Trump could be offering to help the Chinese firm, ZTE, to gain China's backing for a deal with North Korea.

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“If the President is attempting to earn China’s support for a potential deal on North Korea, it cannot be through secret side deals,” Engel said.

“We cannot reach an agreement by selling out our national-security interests & giving bad actors a pass.” 

The Commerce Department last month prohibited American companies from selling to ZTE on the grounds that the telecommunications firm violated U.S. sanctions.

Trump said on Twitter Sunday that he would work with President Xi Jinping to bring the company “back into business.” He warned that "too many jobs in China" are being lost.

The president has since received criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNYT: Don't make Acosta a political martyr Charities say they never received donations touted by Jeffrey Epstein: report Schumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLiberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist House passes bills to boost small business cybersecurity MORE (R-Fla.).

“President Trump’s about-face on ZTE is baffling,” Engel said.

“Just last month, the U.S. government hit ZTE with a seven-year ban for violating Iran and North Korea sanctions then lying about their efforts to address the problem.” 

The White House on Sunday aimed to clarify the president’s tweets with a statement from deputy press secretary Lindsey Walters, who said the Commerce Department would decide any regulatory course of action.

“The administration is in contact with China on this issue, among others in the bilateral relationship,” she said. 

“President Trump expects Secretary Ross to exercise his independent judgment, consistent with applicable laws and regulations, to resolve the regulatory action involving ZTE based on its facts.”