Trump blames China trade-talk blowup on ‘very weak Democrats’ and the idea he’ll lose in 2020

  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday attempted to pin blame for the sudden US-China trade-talk troubles on “very weak Democrats.”
  • Trump argued that Chinese officials had reneged on earlier commitments in an attempt to delay until after the 2020 election, when they might be able to negotiate with Democrats.
  • On Sunday, Trump unexpectedly announced that the US planned to dramatically increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods come Friday.
  • US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Monday said the abrupt announcement was a response to “an erosion in commitments by China.”
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President Donald Trump on Wednesday attempted to pin the blame for the sudden stumble in US-China trade talks on the prospect of a Democrat retaking the White House in 2020, arguing that the Chinese would prefer to negotiate with one of his presidential competitors.

“The reason for the China pullback & attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to ‘negotiate’ with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats, and thereby continue to ripoff the United States (($500 Billion a year)) for years to come,” Trump tweeted.

The negotiations meant to end the yearlong trade war experienced sudden, unexpected trouble Sunday when Trump tweeted a threat to increase the rate of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%. The president said the increase would take effect Friday at 12:01 a.m. ET.

Trump also said the US planned to eventually impose 25% tariffs on $325 billion worth of goods not previously caught up in the trade war.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed Monday that the US planned to increase the tariff rate to 25% on the $200 billion tranche. According to the officials, the threat was a response to China’s walking back some of its earlier commitments in trade talks.

“Over the course of the last week or so, we have seen an erosion in commitments by China, I would say retreating from specific commitments that had already been made,” Lighthizer said.

In addition, Lighthizer’s office on Wednesday officially submitted the draft text to raise the tariffs come Friday – making the threat very real.

Before the sudden reversal, negotiations between the US and China seemed to be coming along nicely. A deal seemed close as the Trump administration reportedly prioritized short-term gains over long-term structural changes to the Chinese economic system.

But Trump is now accusing China of trying to stall in case a Democrat takes over the Oval Office after the 2020 election, an outcome Trump argued would result in a worse deal for the US.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign responded to the president’s insinuation, arguing that the trade war is already hurting the US.

“Instead of working with our closest allies to decisively pressure China into ending its worst trade abuses, Donald Trump has lashed out at them,” a campaign official told INSIDER in a statement. The result has been that the only people with whom Trump has gotten tough are the consumers and small businesses who are being taxed by his trade war in the form of higher prices, as well as America’s farmers, who are now suffering from escalating bankruptcies. “

Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, also hit back on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, the only people @realdonaldtrump has gotten tough w/ so far on trade are US farmers, small business owners & consumers, who feel the brunt of his tariff war,” Bedingfield said. “@JoeBiden will invest in our core strengths & ensure that US & our allies write rules of the road re: China.”

Whether that is the case is unclear, but there is still some time to make a deal. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to come to Washington, DC, on Thursday for another round of negotiations.

Here’s a timeline of the US-China trade war so far: