President Donald Trump said Thursday he’d gotten a “beautiful letter” from Chinese President Xi Jinping, just hours before U.S. and Chinese officials were set to resume trade talks in Washington ahead of a deadline for tariffs.
XI LETTER AND TARIFF THREAT
Trump was asked about the prospects for a trade deal during an event on surprise medical billing at the White House, and replied “we’ll see.” He said an agreement with China was still possible this week but called tariffs an excellent alternative. “I happen to think that tariffs for our country are very valuable,” said Trump.
Tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods will rise to 25% from the current 10% Friday in the absence of an agreement. U.S. stocks
bounced off their lows after Trump’s comments on the Xi letter and China talks.
Trump said at the event that his administration was working with Congress on a package to end surprise medical billing and said, “We have bipartisan support, which is rather shocking.”
CHANGE OF TONE ON OBSTRUCTION
Trump also said Thursday he’d leave it up to Attorney General William Barr as to whether the special counsel, Robert Mueller, would testify before Congress about his report, which Trump has previously said found no collusion and no obstruction of justice.
The president shifted his tone on his characterization of the report in remarks Thursday, saying it found “no collusion and essentially no obstruction.”
Mueller’s report said that contacts by Trump associates didn’t amount to collusion. The special counsel also wrote he couldn’t conclude that Trump didn’t commit obstruction of justice.
Barr then determined Trump had not committed a crime.
Trump also told reporters he was “very surprised” that his son Don Jr. was sent a subpoena by the Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by North Carolina Republican Richard Burr. Burr, said Trump, previously “said we found no collusion.” Trump said Don Jr. had testified for “20 hours or something” and called him a “very good person.”
IRAN AND KERRY
Trump also ramped up criticism of former Secretary of State John Kerry, saying he “should be prosecuted” for alleged violations of the Logan Act by holding conversations with Iranian officials. Trump had also in April criticized Kerry for talking with Iran. A Kerry spokesman told Politico that “everything President Trump said today is simply wrong, end of story.”
Amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran, Trump said he wanted the country to “call me.” Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal and this week announced sanctions on Iranian steel and other industries.
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