DNC: Trump Admits He Rolled Over For China

In response to Trump saying “I’m making a trade deal with China, this was before the virus, of course I’m going to be complimentary” when asked about his previous praise for China’s failed coronavirus response, DNC Deputy War Room Director Daniel Wessel released the following statement:

“Trump finally admitted the truth: he rolled over for China. Trump put his political fortunes first and our public health last. He refused to call out China on its coronavirus response and delayed taking action to mitigate the crisis out of fear of upsetting his trade deal that has gone largely unfulfilled. Now Americans are suffering the consequences.”

These are the facts:

  • Trump has been making big promises about being tough on China for a very long time. He claimed at the start of his 2016 campaign that China “will give us everything we want. That won’t even be a hard negotiation.”

  • But Trump never followed through on his bluster. His reckless trade policies pushed farmers and manufacturers to the brink and he was forced to make concessions to China without making any progress toward a level playing field for American industry.

  • Trump’s failure to stand up to China is one of his biggest vulnerabilities. He knows his chaotic policies bankrupted farms and pushed manufacturing into recession, and to simply start cleaning up the damage he’s done, he needs China to bail him out by making big purchases of U.S. goods in an election year.

  • Trump entered this election year in need of a deal to stop the bleeding his trade policies had caused, but at the very same time China was misleading the world on the severity of the virus. He was so desperate for a deal that he knowingly let China’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed tens of thousands of Americans and wrecked our economy, go completely unchallenged.

  • Trump is now grasping at straws as he tries to cover up his dereliction, pointing to his so-called China travel ban as evidence he acted early and decisively to stop the virus. But it has become abundantly clear that his travel ban was far too little, and too late.

We’d say Trump is weak on China, but that’s an understatement. Trump rolled over in a way that has been catastrophic for our country. He did nothing for months because he put himself and his political fortunes first. He refused to push China on its coronavirus response and delayed taking action to mitigate the crisis in an effort to not upset Beijing and secure a limited trade deal that has largely gone unfulfilled. Take a look:

Trump’s response to the virus was delayed by a desire to avoid upsetting China as he sought a deal to begin undoing the damage caused by his trade policies.

  • New York Times: “Decision-making was also complicated by a long-running dispute inside the administration over how to deal with China. The virus at first took a back seat to a desire not to upset Beijing during trade talks.”

In January and February 2020, Trump’s senior advisors were preoccupied with  ensuring coronavirus would not interfere with trade negotiations.

  • KUDLOW: “The United States And China reached a major historic phase one trade agreement. The two countries are engaging as never before. We have to work through issues on trade, on the economy, on human rights, on national security, and now on public health.”

  • KUDLOW: “China’s leader Xi Jinping reassured U.S. President Donald Trump in a phone call that Beijing would meet purchase goals outlined in the recent trade deal between the countries — despite the impact of the coronavirus on the Asian nation, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Friday.”

  • KUDLOW: “‘Xi apparently reassured President Trump in this phone call that while there might be some delays in the purchase of American exports, the markers of $200 billion over the next couple of years, will in fact be met,’ Kudlow said.”

  • MNUCHIN: “Mnuchin acknowledged the outbreak could also delay the start of negotiations on deepening the trade deal with Beijing and reaching a phase two agreement, but said he was not worried about that at this point.”

  • New York Times: “Several top advisers to Mr. Trump have advocated restraint — notably Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law; Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary; and Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council.  They argue that the two superpowers need to work together to suppress the virus and resuscitate the global economy, and that Mr. Trump should not jeopardize a trade deal that the two nations reached last December.”

As Trump came close to locking his phase one trade deal with China, he and his administration repeatedly praised China and President Xi. 

January 15, 2020:

They touted the trade agreement and the U.S.-China relationship, while failing to press China on the epidemic.

January 16, 2020:

January 17, 2020:

Throughout January and February, Trump defended China’s handling of the coronavirus and its transparency, even as concerns were raised by his own administration.

January 24, 2020:

February 7, 2020:

February 7, 2020:

February 10, 2020:

  • TRUMP: “Well, I think China is very, you know, professionally run, in the sense that they have everything under control.” [Trish Regan Primetime, Fox Business, 2/10/20]

February 19, 2020:

  • TRUMP: “Well, I’m confident that they’re trying very hard. I know president Xi, I get along with him very well. We just made a great trade deal, which is going to be a lot of business for Arizona and every other place. But they are trying very, very hard, and I think the numbers are going to get progressively better as we go along.” [Fox 10 Phoenix, 2/19/20]

February 23, 2020:

Trump cites his ban on travelers arriving from China as proof that he took coronavirus seriously early on. But the travel ban is not the portrait of effective “very, very early” action that he claims.

  • While Trump claims his China travel ban came early, more than three dozen countries had already restricted travel from China before he acted. Each day Trump debated the travel measures roughly 14,000 people arrived in the U.S. from China.

  • Trump didn’t declare his China travel ban until one day after the World Health Organization had already declared the coronavirus a global health emergency.

  • Trump’s China travel ban included exceptions that allowed 40,000 people to fly into the U.S. from China even after the ban took effect.

As the virus spread throughout China, the U.S. continued to export critical medical supplies to China that are now in short supply domestically.

  • As the coronavirus spread throughout China, the U.S. exported millions of dollars of masks and ventilators to China with the encouragement of the U.S. government.

  • While U.S. exports spiked, imports from China of supplies fell below normal levels as Trump downplayed the coronavirus threat back home.

  • Trump waited until mid-March to invoke the Defense Production Act to speed up production, and caused confusion in the production and distribution of supplies by making it unclear whether he was actually using the full powers of the act or not.