Trump says ZTE support followed request from Chinese president

Trump says ZTE support followed request from Chinese president
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet LA Times editorial board labels Trump 'Bigot-in-Chief' Trump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates MORE on Thursday said that his surprise support for Chinese telecoms firm ZTE followed a request from Chinese President Xi Jinping to look into the matter.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted support for taking steps to allow the company back into the U.S., noting that he and Xi were working together on the matter.

“Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” he wrote.

Trump's comments come one month after the Commerce Department banned the company from using American components.

The ban came in response to ZTE breaking U.S. trade control laws by selling components to Iran and North Korea. ZTE also stands accused of stealing intellectual property on behalf of the Chinese government.

“They did very bad things to our country. They did a lot of bad things to our economy,” Trump said Thursday, but added that the company also bought a large number of components from American suppliers.

The move caused ZTE to shutter its U.S. operations, and could be a death knell for the Chinese company.

Trump’s comments on Thursday followed a rare, bipartisan rebuke from a congressional committee on the subject.

Just an hour before Trump’s statements, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment requiring the Commerce Department to keep its sanctions against ZTE in place. The committee approved the amendment to the 2019 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill by a unanimous voice vote.

“Supporting this amendment will show that the U.S. government stands behind the sanctions that it enacts, and will enforce them. It also further prevents foreign companies beholden to their governments from further infiltrating our U.S. networks,” said Rep. Dutch RuppersbergerCharles (Dutch) Albert RuppersbergerHouse passes bill to establish DHS cyber 'first responder' teams House Appropriations passes defense bill that would limit funds for border wall, pull US support from Yemen war GOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote MORE (D-Md.), who authored the amendment.