Donald Trump decided to lift the sanctions against a Chinese telecommunications corporation — even though they were involved with spying on the U.S. The government-owned company ZTE was also selling that technology to our enemies. It seems, Trump wanted to give China a great big thank you for giving him half a billion dollars, but then, Congress finally grew a spine.
The Constitution prohibits the president from profiting from foreign governments. That means, the man sitting in the Oval Office is currently breaking the law.
Still, Trump pressed onward. After all, he wanted that billion dollars the Chinese gifted him for his Indonesian theme park hotel and golf course.
During a press briefing in the White House with the president of South Korea, he said:
‘I know deals better than anybody knows deals…They (China) treated me maybe better than anyone has ever been treated.’
The Republican-dominated Congress is supposed to provide a check on Trump, the Executive Branch of our government. Instead, the ultra-conservative House’s Freedom Caucus and its equivalent in the Senate have acted like the Twitter-in-chief’s handmaidens.
Then, one of Trump’s opponents in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), sent a tweet claiming:
‘If this is true, then administration has surrendered to #China on #ZTE Making changes to their board & a fine won’t stop them from spying & stealing from us. But this is too important to be over. We will begin working on veto-proof congressional action’
As a member of the Senate Banking committee, Rubio was searching for a ‘veto-proof congressional action’ to fight Trump’s attempts to save ZTE. He called the products that ZTE sells present a surveillance and national security risk.
The Florida senator said, according to CNBC, the panel’s action was “too important:”
‘But this is too important to be over. We will begin working on veto-proof congressional action.’
Trump wanted to release the ban on American corporations selling to ZTE. In fact, the president had already mapped out a deal to save the company.
Even though the panel sought and achieved a veto-proof agreement, there was no promise that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would buy into the panel’s deal.
The Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, testified before a Senate panel. He said the administration planned to “enforce national security.” That would be difficult given that ZTE makes spyware. The secretary said:
‘Although I have participated in certain discussions, I can assure you that whatever the Commerce Department decides, the intel community has been part of the briefings and we will make sure that we enforce national security issues.’
Should Congress be successful in banning ZTE’s products, it would kill off the largest company in China. Trump said that the restrictions on it would cause China to lose jobs, obviously. That is exactly the opposite of what he said on the campaign trail.
The Senate Banking Committee approved a limit on Donald Trump being able to get rid of sanctions on any Chinese corporation, by a rare bipartisan vote of 23 to 2.
Schumer released a statement after the vote, on Senate Democrats‘ website. It said:
‘If the president and his team won’t follow through on tough sanctions against ZTE, it’s up to Congress to ensure that it happens. Both parties have come together today to strongly rebuke ZTE and the administration’s soft approach. This critical legislation along with the [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] reforms that it was added to are huge steps forward in our fight against the Chinese, and we should pass this legislation on the floor immediately.’
Featured Image via Getty Images/Tom Pennington.