The attitude Donald Trump has toward China is getting more and more disjointed. First of all, the President is involved in an intensifying trade war in which he is eager to prove how he’s so “tough.”
Second of all, there’s the way Trump handled the issue with ZTE. He recently told his Department of Commerce to ease the Chinese telecom company’s penalties after it allegedly violated American sanctions and used its products to spy on foreign countries.
Last month, Trump declared there were “too many jobs in China lost” because of the penalties – like the primary focus of the White House were unemployment in China.
The way the administration handled this has sparked criticism from both parties, and the Washington Post recently reported on how the President has tried calming the waters in the capital.
GOP lawmakers went to the White House last month to hear President Trump’s case for lifting U.S. sanctions on the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE. But even as Trump tried to convince his skeptical listeners that it was all part of a grand plan to win China’s help on North Korea, he threw in a jab, according to two senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting.
None of you, Trump told the lawmakers, had even heard of ZTE before the most recent flap.
Trump’s claim was utterly ridiculous. The ZTE scandal may not have made front-page news, and many people were probably unaware of the developments, but legislators on Capitol Hill, especially the ones involved in national security and foreign policy, have had their eyes on the telecom giant in China.
Several years ago, the Unites States Congress even did an investigative report about ZTE after multiple hearings.
Why, then, would Trump tell legislators they’d never heard about ZTE? Because he had never heard about ZTE, and President Trump often projects his ignorance onto everybody else.
He does this constantly. Trump frequently says things like, “People don’t realize” and, “A lot of people don’t know that” after he learns something most people knew before. What he’s really saying is, “I recently learned some new detail, and since I wasn’t aware of it, I’m going to assume most people didn’t know it, either.”
Those assumptions aren’t right, though. Like Dana Milbank said recently, “Trump’s lessons are often accompanied by raised eyebrows, widened eyes and a ‘gee whiz’ look that suggests perhaps the nation is witnessing the president’s education in real time.”
It seems like President Trump just doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.