Fact Check Of The Day: Trade Or Enforcement? Trump And Aides Give Conflicting Statements On ZTE

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Fact Check of the Day

President Trump on Wednesday characterized his decision to review restrictions on a Chinese telecommunication company as part of “the larger trade deal.” But his commerce secretary and press aides have said differently.

“Our position has been that that’s an enforcement action, separate from trade,” Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, said on Monday. “ZTE did do some inappropriate things. They’ve admitted to that. The question is: Are there alternative remedies to the one that we had originally put forward?”

Larry Kudlow, Mr. Trump’s top economic adviser, echoed that sentiment in a Tuesday interview with Axios.

“This is principally an enforcement issue, by the way. It’s really divorced from the trade story,” Mr. Kudlow said, according to Reuters.

Raj Shah, a White House deputy press secretary, was asked on Monday whether the White House agreed with Mr. Ross that whatever might happen with ZTE had nothing to do with trade negotiations.

“I think Secretary Ross speaks for the U.S. government on this matter. And the president has asked him to look into it,” Mr. Shah said. “I haven’t seen those remarks, and I’m sure there will be some follow-up conversation, but he does reflect our view.”

Sources: President Trump’s Twitter statements, the White House, C-Span, Reuters, The New York Times

Linda Qiu is a fact-check reporter, based in Washington. She came to the Times in 2017 from the fact-checking service PolitiFact.@ylindaqiu