Trump publicly urges China to investigate Bidens amid impeachment inquiry

 President Donald Trump urged another foreign government to probe Joe Biden and his son Thursday, saying the Chinese government should investigate the former vice president and son Hunter Biden over the latter’s involvement with an investment fund that raised money in the country.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

While Trump said he hasn’t requested Chinese President Xi Jinping investigate the Bidens, the public call mirrors the private behavior on which Democrats are partially basing their impeachment inquiry — using the office of the presidency to press a foreign leader to investigate a political rival.

It is “certainly something we can start thinking about, because I’m sure that President Xi does not like being on that kind of scrutiny, where billions of dollars is taken out of his country by a guy that just got kicked out of the Navy,” Trump said Thursday of asking China to probe the Bidens. “He got kicked out of the Navy, all of the sudden he’s getting billions of dollars. You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.”

The U.S. in the midst of a tense trade war with China. The president, discussing progress on negotiations with Beijing on a possible trade agreement just moments prior to his remarks about the Bidens, told reporters that “if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”

Chinese officials will be in Washington next week in another attempt to revive talks, Trump said.

Trump, seeking to expand his corruption accusations against the Bidens beyond Ukraine, has in recent days repeatedly accused Hunter Biden of using a 2013 trip on Air Force Two with his father, then the vice president, to procure $1.5 billion from China for a private equity fund he had started.

Prior to Thursday, Trump had not called for an investigation of the matter. The White House declined to comment on Trump’s remarks.

Despite Trump’s accusations, there has been no evidence of corruption on the part of the former vice president or his son. In a statement, Biden’s deputy campaign manager and communications director, Kate Bedingfield, said the president “is flailing and melting down on national television, desperately clutching for conspiracy theories that have been debunked and dismissed by independent, credible news organizations.”

“As Joe Biden forcefully said last night, the defining characteristic of Donald Trump’s presidency is the ongoing abuse of power. What Donald Trump just said on the South Lawn of the White House was this election’s equivalent of his infamous ‘Russia, if you’re listening’ moment from 2016 — a grotesque choice of lies over truth and self over the country,” Bedingfield said.

Trump, during a 2016 campaign rally, encouraged the country to meddle in the 2016 election by trying to access Hillary Clinton’s emails, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation found that within hours of Trump‘s invitation, Russian military intelligence initiated a hack against Clinton’s office. Trump and his allies have said he wasn’t serious when he made the comment.

In pushing back on Trump, Biden’s campaign previously pointed to a fact-check from The Washington Post that found Trump’s claims false while tracing the origins of the $1.5 billion figure to a 2018 book published by conservative author Peter Schweizer.

In addition, Hunter Biden’s spokesman, George Mesires, told NBC News previously that Hunter Biden wasn’t initially an “owner” of the company and has never gotten paid for serving on the board. He said Hunter Biden didn’t acquire an equity interest in the fund until 2017, after his father had left office.

And when he did, he put in only about $420,000 — a 10 percent interest. That puts the total capitalization of the fund at the time at about $4.2 million — a far cry from the $1.5 billion that Trump has alleged.

Trump also said Thursday that he still wants Ukraine to conduct “a major investigation” into Joe and Hunter Biden.

[NBC News]

Reality

Lawfare: Former federal prosecutor and current professor at the University of Alabama School of Law Joyce White Vance concisely yet methodically explained why Trump’s statements constituted a crime.

“Trump just committed a felony violation of law by soliciting something of value in connection with a US election from a foreign government on national TV. 52 U.S. Code § 30121. Violating the law isn’t necessary for Impeachment but it certainly warrants it,” Vance wrote (including a citation to a statute).

She then explained how previously documented accounts of similar behavior render Trump’s conduct here even more culpable than in earlier instances of his requests for foreign assistance.

“The statute requires knowledge your conduct is a crime. After the Mueller investigation, there’s no way Trump was unaware this violates the law. Ukraine/China can you hear me is even worse than Russia, if that’s possible, because it comes from a sitting president,” she wrote.

Trump slammed for congratulating China on 70 years of Communist rule

President Trump faced a backlash online and from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Tuesday for congratulating China on the 70th anniversary of Communist rule.

“Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!” the president said in a tweet that was slammed for ignoring decades of human rights abuses in the country.

Trump has generally spoken favorably about Xi, though relations between the two nations have deteriorated since he took office and has launched a trade war with Beijing.

His shoutout came amid violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, where an 18-year-old was hit in the chest by a live round fired by police in the Chinese territory.

House Republican Conference chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming released a statement pointing to China’s oppressive governing tactics, according to the Washington Post.

“This is not a day for celebration,” she said in a joint statement with Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.).

The US will use the occasion to “rededicate ourselves to ensuring that the Chinese Communist Party is left on the ash heap of history,” they added.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also issued a statement that contrasted sharply with the president’s message.

“Today Chinese tyrants celebrated 70 years of communist oppression with their typically brutal symbolism: by sending a police officer to shoot a pro-democracy protester at point-blank range,” Sasse said.

“The freedom-seekers in Hong Kong mourn this anniversary, and the American people stand with them against those who deny their God-given dignity.”

In a statement, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said: “From the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution to the camps in Xinjiang today, it has been a ghoulish 70 years of Chinese Communist Party control.”

And Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a Trump ally, tweeted a terse “I will pass” in response to the president’s wishes.

On Twitter, Trump’s followers also didn’t hold back in calling him out.

“Don’t forget to send timely salutations to the other loves of your life, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Rodrigo Duterte, and Jair Bolsonaro!” Karen Walz wrote.

User Michael Lebowitz wrote: “Are you kidding me. Congratulations to a nation that has killed more people than Hitler and Stalin in the effort to uphold communism. They are morally corrupt and certainly not deserving of congratulations.”

“Mr. President, I regret to point out you are literally congratulating your greatest enemy, the biggest threat to the US: you are congratulating the CCP,” @WBYeats1865 tweeted.

“Today the CCP just showed off their missiles capable of striking Taiwan, Japan, Guam, and USA soil, and they said it PROUDLY!” he added, referring to the Chinese display of military might on Tuesday.

And another user, Jim Clarke, said: “Never thought I see the day a US President celebrates the anniversary of communism!”

[New York Post]

Beijing denies Trump’s claim that China called US officials to restart talks

President Donald Trump said U.S. and Chinese officials spoke Sunday and he is optimistic China wants to make a deal after the trade war between the two countries escalated in recent days.

“They want to make a deal,” Trump told reporters Monday during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Group of Seven Summit. “That’s a great thing.”

The conversations Sunday between the U.S. and Chinese officials were the first since the two countries lobbed a new round of tariffs at each other last week. Neither side formally broke off talks and White House officials had said they expected negotiations to continue despite the new tariffs. But investors had feared China could walk away from the negotiating table.

Speaking to reporters, Trump heaped praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling him a “great leader” and said China wants “to do something very, very badly.” He said the calls were at the “highest levels.”

“We are probably in a much better position now than any time in the negotiations,” Trump said in a meeting Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

When asked about the phone calls, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, “I haven’t heard about this.” News of Trump’s comments was breaking as he was addressing reporters.

Hours earlier, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said China sought “calm” negotiations and opposed an escalation.

“We are willing to solve the problem through consultation and cooperation with a calm attitude,” he said, according to Chinese newspaper Caixin. “We firmly oppose the escalation of the trade war,” he said, adding that it “is not conducive to China, the U.S. and the interests of people all over the world.”

Liu, China’s top trade negotiator, was speaking at a tech conference in Chongqing in southwest China, the Chongqing Morning Post reported.

The stock market fell sharply Friday after China announced it would slap retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, and Trump hit back saying he would increase existing tariffs on $250 billion in imports to 30 percent from 25 percent Oct. 1.

He also said that a planned 10 percent tariff on a further $300 billion in Chinese goods would now be taxed at 15 percent starting next month.

But the continued talks and optimism from Trump eased financial market jitters. U.S. stock futures pointed to a recovery Monday morning, with Dow futures jumping more than 200 points.

Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Sunday afternoon that he was anticipating a call from the Chinese this week and for Chinese officials to still come to Washington as planned.

“You’ve got both sides playing their game, we get that,” Kudlow told reporters. “As long as they are talking, I’m good.”

Trump also signaled a hint of optimism on Iran.

He said he didn’t feel disrespected by the surprise arrival of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the seaside town where the meeting of world leaders is taking place. Trump said French President Emmanuel Macron let him know Zarif was coming on the day of his arrival.

“I don’t consider that disrespectful at all, especially when he asked for my approval,” Trump said of Macron.

But White House aides said they felt blindsided by the unanticipated visitor, and some were upset at the French over the move, U.S. officials said shortly after Zarif’s arrival.

A spokesman for Zarif announced that he had arrived in Biarritz at the invitation of the French foreign minister “to continue talks” between the Iranian and French governments.

Trump said it would have been too soon to meet with the Iranians, and he declined to comment when asked if he sent any message to Zarif. There is no indication Zarif would have been willing to meet with the U.S. officials.

Trump said he isn’t looking for regime change in Iran, but that he wants to see the country abandon its nuclear program and stop its terrorism funding before lifting financial restrictions that have crippled its economy.

“We are looking to make Iran rich again,” Trump told reporters Monday. “Let them be rich.”

[NBC News]

Reality

Beijing has no idea what Trump is talking about.

Trump says he’s ordering American companies to immediately start looking for an alternative to China

President Donald Trump on Friday said he was ordering U.S. companies to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

Trump also said he was ordering all U.S. postal carriers, including FedEx, Amazon, UPS and United States Post Office, “to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!).”

And Trump said he will respond this afternoon to China’s newest round of tariffs on U.S. goods.

The White House did not immediately respond when asked if the announcement, delivered in a four-part Twitter thread Friday morning, constituted an official order from the president.

It was not immediately clear how, or under what authority, the president could implement these declared orders, or whether he had already done so.

Stocks sank to session lows shortly after Trump’s tweets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 435 points, or 1.6%, while the S&P 500 slid 1.7% and the Nasdaq Composite dove 2%.

In a statement, UPS said that it “follows all applicable laws and administrative orders of the governments in the countries where we do business. We work closely with regulatory authorities to monitor for prohibited substances.”

FedEx also responded: “FedEx already has extensive security measures in place to prevent the use of our networks for illegal purposes. We follow the laws and regulations everywhere we do business and have a long history of close cooperation with authorities.”

Amazon and the Postal Service were not immediately available for comment.

Trump’s tweets followed another missive against Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, who had just pledged to “act as appropriate” to sustain the U.S. economy amid the “deteriorating” global economic outlook.

In an apparent response, Trump tweeted: “Who is our bigger enemy,” Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping?

Earlier Friday, China had announced it would slap retaliatory tariffs of 5% and 10% on roughly $75 billion in U.S. imports. The new import taxes represent the latest escalation in the increasingly fraught U.S.-China trade war, as well as a direct response to Trump’s plan to impose duties on $300 billion worth of China’s goods by mid-December.

Top trade advisors Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro were reportedly near the Oval Office just before the president sent his latest tweets. A source later told CNBC that Trump was meeting with his trade team Friday.

[CNBC]

Trump on Economy: ‘I Am the Chosen One’

President Donald Trump claimed “I am the chosen one” in attempting to tell reporters he will resolve an ongoing trade war with China that could potentially lead to a recession.

“The fake news of which many of you are members is trying to convince the public to have a recession. “Let’s have a recession!” the United States is doing phenomenally well. One thing I have to do is economically take on China. Because China has been ripping us off for many years,” Trump told reporters at the White House Wednesday.

“This isn’t my trade war, this is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago, by a lot of other presidents. Over the last five or six years, China has made $500 billion. $500 billion. Ripped it out of the United States. Not only that — if you take a look, intellectual property theft. Add that to it. And at a lot of other things to it. Excuse me. Somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.”

“I’m taking on China on trade,” Trump said. “We are winning. We are the piggy bank. We are the ones the European Union wants to rob and take advantage of. The European Union, $200 billion. China, more than $500 billion. Sorry, I was put here by people to do a great job. And that’s what I’m doing. Nobody has done a job like I’ve done.”

[Mediaite]

Trump praises his rally audience for not acting like ‘credible people’ after ‘CNN sucks’ chant

President Donald Trump praised an unruly crowd at a 2020 re-election campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire on Tuesday.

Trump was falsely claiming that China is paying for the tariffs in his trade war when he went off on the press.

“But when you listen to the fake news — look how many there are,” he said as he gazed out to the press area.

He then stepped back from the microphone as his supporters booed the concept of a free press.

The crowd started chanting, “CNN sucks.”

“Are we sure that we are in New Hampshire?” Trump asked. “You know, you have a reputation
— I know it is not true because I know you too well. You have a reputation of being staid, very elegant, staid, and credible people. You are not acting it tonight and that’s good.

[Raw Story]

Trump Rage-Tweets at Biden Speech Condemning Him for ‘Fanning the Flames of White Supremacy’: ‘Sooo Boring!’

After visiting victims in Dayton and en route to visiting victims in El Paso, President Donald Trump trashed Joe Biden on Twitter as the networks covered the former veep’s speech denouncing the president.

Biden said that POTUS has “fanned the flames of white supremacy” and that no one was fooled by his “low-energy” condemnation this tweet.

Trump tweeted in response by insulting “Sleepy Joe” and remarking, “Sooo Boring!”

He also got in a dig at the media, saying, “The LameStream Media will die in the ratings and clicks with this guy. It will be over for them.”

[Mediaite]

Trump administration labels China a currency manipulator

The Trump administration on Monday designated China a “currency manipulator,” after the country’s central bank allowed its currency to weaken amid the ongoing trade dispute.

The move comes hours after Trump accused Beijing of depreciating its currency on Twitter, adding later that such measures have been used to “steal our business and factories, hurt our jobs, depress our workers’ wages and harm our farmers’ prices. Not anymore!”

The People’s Bank of China allowed its currency to fall below 7 yuan to the American dollar, which is considered to be a psychologically important marker, for the first time in a decade. The move was seen as a retaliatory measure following Trump’s threat to slap a 10% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods.

The yuan’s depreciation comes amid a longstanding trade war between Washington and Beijing as each side has slapped economic penalties alongside on-again, off-again negotiations.

Presidents have often used the twice-a-year currency report as a diplomatic tools while engaging with countries that are seen as having exchange rates that harm US jobs and economic growth.

The United States hasn’t labeled a country a currency manipulator since it tagged China in the early 1990s, under President Bill Clinton. Designating a country doesn’t immediately trigger penalties, but it is seen by other governments as a provocation.

Treasury has repeatedly declined to label China a currency manipulator, despite Trump’s pledge to do so during his 2016 campaign. Instead, the country was placed on Treasury’s “monitoring list” in its review of US trading partners along with eight other countries.

Treasury’s report highlighted “significant concerns” over the meaningful depreciation of China’s currency against the US dollar, a critical component of ongoing trade talks, and urged China to take steps to avoid “a persistently weak currency.”

But on Monday Treasury said China’s central bank openly acknowledged that it has “extensive experience manipulating its currency and remains prepared to do so on an ongoing basis,” pointing to an earlier statement released by the People’s Bank of China.

The PBOC’s statement noted that it “has accumulated rich experience and policy tools, and will continue to innovate and enrich the control toolbox, and take necessary and targeted measures against the positive feedback behavior that may occur in the foreign exchange market.”

Trump has repeatedly argued that the Chinese have depreciated their currency slowly in the last year to help offset tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods amid an ongoing trade war between the two major economic superpowers.

[CNN]

Reality

Donald Trump knows nothing about economics and it’s again abundantly clear after he labeled China a currency manipulator after the yuan dropped 1.7 percent, claiming China purposefully forced the yuan down.

The reality is the yuan’s decrease was from three different forces, first trade wars can cause a country’s currency to plunge. For example this happened to Mexico during Trump’s trade war for NAFTA 2.0.
(See: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/31/peso-plunges-vs-the-us-dollar-after-trump-announces-mexican-import-tariffs.html)

Second, a stronger dollar causes other countries currencies to devalue in relation. This is basic economics. As a side note Donald Trump doesn’t want a stronger dollar and has tried to get the Fed to artificially weaken the dollar. You know… manipulate currency.
(See: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/devaluation.asp)

Finally China had actually been propping up the yuan during Trump’s trade wars, the action China took was to just stop and accepting current market forces. Again, China most likely stopped fighting market headwinds as retaliation to Trump’s escalation of his trade wars, so the correct assessment is they were artificially manipulating the currency before by propping it up, but Trump is saying they are manipulating the currency now, which is just plain incorrect.
(See: https://www.ft.com/content/9d24c1ca-b7cd-11e9-96bd-8e884d3ea203)

Trump is speeding us into a Smoot-Hawley scenario, which exacerbated the Great Depression, and will make the next recession worse than it normally will be with his backwards understanding of basic economics.

Trump Ratchets Up U.S.-China Trade War With More Tariffs; Stocks Slide

President Trump announced Thursday that the United States will impose a new 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of products imported from China, saying Beijing had broken some of the promises it made in trade negotiations.

The new tariffs, which are set to take effect Sept. 1, represent another ratcheting up in trade tensions between the countries and sent stocks falling sharply. 

Major U.S. stock indexes fell about 1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 280 points. Oil prices tumbled about 8% after Trump’s announcement on concerns that the tariffs would hurt demand.

The move comes days after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin traveled to Shanghai for a brief meeting about trade with Chinese officials.

The White House said the meeting was “constructive” and negotiations were scheduled to resume in September in Washington, D.C.

But Trump indicated he was disappointed by the lack of progress in the talks, saying China had failed to follow through on promises to curb the sale of fentanyl and buy more products from U.S. farmers.

“Additionally, my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States – this never happened, and many Americans continue to die!” Trump said in a tweet.

Still, the president tried to strike a more positive tone than he has in the past, saying, “We look forward to continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive Trade Deal, and feel that the future between our two countries will be a very bright one!”

The president has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports. In May, Trump had threatened additional tariffs but suspended them at the last minute.

Now, he is going ahead with tariffs after all, though at a lower rate than before.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the first time since 2008 amid signs that the economies of the United States and other countries are slowing. The central bank also cited the uncertainty created by the standoff with China.

“Certainly, we’ve seen … that when there’s a sharp confrontation between two large economies, you can see effects on business confidence pretty quickly and on financial markets pretty quickly,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in a news conference after the interest rate announcement.

Industry groups said the new tariffs will hurt shoppers and threaten jobs.

“We are disappointed the administration is doubling-down on a flawed tariff strategy that is already slowing U.S. economic growth, creating uncertainty and discouraging investment,” David French, vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement. “These additional tariffs will only threaten U.S. jobs and raise costs for American families on everyday goods.”

Matt Priest, head of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, said in a statement: “President Trump is, in effect, using American families as a hostage in his trade war negotiations. Tariffs are taxes and this move will noticeably raise the cost of shoes at retail and will have a chilling effect on hiring in the footwear industry.”

Trump has lately indicated that the U.S. can win a trade war with Beijing, pointing out that China’s economy has been slowing after a long period of rapid growth.

U.S. officials want China to address the theft of intellectual property, stop subsidizing its companies and open its markets to more U.S. goods.

[NPR]

Trump calls for a “treason” investigation based on a Fox & Friends news brief

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that his administration would review whether Google has committed “treason” after seeing a Fox & Friends news brief in which one of his biggest Silicon Valley supporters floated that baseless claim.

Trump was responding to a Fox & Friends segment from earlier Tuesday morning, as he indicated by tagging the show’s Twitter handle and using quotes from its programming. An hour earlier, Fox news reader Jillian Mele began a news brief, “Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel believes China should be investigated for treason.” As she spoke, Fox’s chyron read, “Thiel accuses Google of working with Chinese Govt.”

Trump regularly watches Fox News programs like Fox & Friends (often on delay using his “Super Tivo”) and tweets about segments that catch his attention. This creates a feedback loop between the president and his most avid propagandists which can swing both the national news cycle and federal policy

Fox segments spur some of the president’s most inflammatory comments — this morning’s tweet marks at least the fourth time the president has responded to the network’s coverage by promoting a treason charge against his perceived enemies.

In this case, Trump was picking up on an accusation from Thiel, a wealthy tech investor and major Trump donor who spoke at the 2016 Republican convention. In a speech on Sunday, Thiel said that Google’s decision to work with the Chinese government to produce a censored version of its search while letting a Pentagon contract lapse was “seemingly treasonous,” and he suggested without evidence that Google’s executive corps had been “infiltrated” by foreign intelligence services. “These questions need to be asked by the FBI and the CIA,” he added. (Thiel sits on the board of Facebook, a Google competitor.)

The Pentagon has previously alleged that Google’s work in China provides a “direct benefit to the Chinese military,” and Trump has echoed the point. The tech company responded that it is not working with the Chinese military. 

Thiel returned to the subject during a Monday night appearance on Fox News host and sometime Trump adviser Tucker Carlson’s show, floating what he described as “a few different possibilities” while offering no evidence for his claim of Chinese infiltration of and treason by Google. 

“If [Google CEO] Sundar Pinchai was sitting right here, what would you say to him?” Carlson asked at one point.

“Well, I would say, answer my three questions,” Thiel replied. “How many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated Google? Have the Chinese in particular infiltrated? And why are you working with Communist China and not the U.S.? What is the reason you’re doing that?”

“The questions you raise, and this is not in any way to minimize their importance, are kind of obvious questions,” Carlson replied. “Why hasn’t the U.S. government ascertained the answers?”

“It’s possible that there are people in the U.S. government looking into it and they haven’t told us, but yeah, I think the FBI and CIA would be the natural places to look into it,” Thiel said.

Mele aired a clip from that interview during her news brief the following morning. 

Fox’s credulous coverage of Thiel’s speculation — and Trump’s parroting of those claims — is no surprise. Right-wing activists and journalists have treated tech companies as an emerging enemy force in recent years. By inflating claims of purported bias against conservatives on social media platforms, they sought to redeploy ref-working tactics previously used against news media outlets. 

Fueled by Fox, Trump has adopted this campaign as his own. Last year, Trump claimed Google’s search engine was “suppressing voices of Conservatives” and promised to act against it, apparently in response to a conspiracy-minded segment he saw on Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight

Last week, Trump took that accusation from Twitter to the White House Rose Garden. “We had a terrible bias,” Trump said at Thursday’s “Presidential Social Media Summit,” an event that sought to mainstream previously fringe pro-Trump figures. “We have censorship like nobody has any understanding or nobody can believe.” 

[Media Matters]

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