Chuck Schumer, one of Trump's biggest Democratic cheerleaders on China, says president 'sold out' in phase one deal

Key Points
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accuses President Trump of caving to China with the phase one trade deal.
  • After Schumer's comment, Beijing officials announced that the U.S. and China have reached an agreement on text of the preliminary deal and will now move toward signing a deal as quickly as possible.
  • Schumer is one of Trump's biggest Democratic supporters in his efforts to crack down on Chinese trade abuses.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, December 10, 2019.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, one of the Democrats most supportive of President Donald Trump's crackdown on China, contended Friday that the president caved by striking a trade agreement.

"There are huge structural inequities with China's trade relationships with the U.S. At first, President Trump seemed like the only president who would dare tackle this challenge; but now, he has sold out for a temporary and unreliable promise from China to purchase some soybeans," Schumer said in a statement.

"We've heard this song and dance from China before," he continued. "Once again, Donald Trump cannot be relied upon to do the right thing for American workers and businesses, even when his statements were pointing in the right direction."

Schumer tweet

After Schumer's statement, Trump tweeted that the U.S. has agreed "to a very large Phase One Deal with China." The president said Beijing "agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more." He also said tariffs set for Sunday "will not be charged."

Trump tweets

Ahead of Trump's tweets, Chinese officials announced at a press conference in Beijing that the U.S. and China had reached an agreement on text of the preliminary deal and will now move toward signing a deal as quickly as possible.

The Senate Democratic leader first criticized the agreement before Trump's tweet, and Schumer's office said he stood by the statement afterward.

Schumer has consistently cheered Trump as he slapped tariffs on Chinese imports and sought to address intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.

The Trump administration has pushed for a deal with Beijing as the world's two largest economies try to dial back a trade war that has worried businesses and investors. News of the agreement with China initially lifted major U.S. stock indexes, before they gave up those gains.

While Schumer criticized the deal, other senators cheered it. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican whose state has taken hits from the trade war, called the deal a "positive development" that "paves the way for a broader agreement that must address non-tariff barriers and intellectual property issues." 

"Iowa in particular will benefit from China's purchasing of agricultural products, especially hog, corn and soybean farmers. But China must know that this gesture of goodwill does not mean the United States will accept anything less than a full and enforceable trade deal," the senator said in a statement. 

The next round of tariffs, a 15% levy on about $160 billion in Chinese-made consumer goods, had been scheduled to take effect Sunday.

China Commerce Minstry to hold press briefing on phase one trade deal