Politics

Trump Accuses China of Midterm Election Meddling

At UN, with trade standoff as backdrop, president lights into Chinese government

President Donald Trump accused China of meddling in the 2018 elections in a way designed to hurt the GOP. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said China has been trying to interfere in November’s midterm elections “against my administration.”

“They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade,” he said during remarks at a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York. “We are winning on trade — we are winning on every level.”

But a senior administration official who briefed reporters Friday on trade matters acknowledged Chinese officials have yet to budge in ongoing trade talks despite the United States repeatedly making clear what Washington wants Beijing to stop doing.

“We don’t want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming elections,” Trump said of China.

He did not specify just what U.S. officials have detected, but China has targeted its retaliatory tariffs to hit hard in states and districts that went for Trump in the 2016 presidential race.

Spokespersons for the White House and the National Security Council have yet to respond a request for comment on Trump's warning to China over the midterms. 

The CIA also had yet to respond to a query seeking more details.

Trump also announced his administration plans to slap new sanctions on Iran after UN-backed penalties are “fully” implemented in early November.

Those sanctions will target “Iran’s malign conduct” in the region, including its pursuit of nuclear weapons and missile on which they might ride.

And he warned other UN member states of “severe consequences” if any sanctions are violated — a reference that some do business with Iran.

“I ask all members to work with the United States to ensure the Iranian regime changes its behavior and never acquires a nuclear bomb,” Trump said.

The president criticized the Obama administration over a $1.7 billion cash transfer made after Washington, Tehran and other world powers struck a nuclear deal from which Trump later withdrew the United States.

“They were in big trouble,” Trump said Wednesday of Iranian leaders. “They needed. We gave it to them.” He said Iran used it to, among other things, build “nuclear-capable missiles” and to “foment terror.”

Former Obama administration officials have defended the payment as necessary to reach the deal, saying the funds came from a weapon-sales account frozen after Iran took 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens hostage in late 1979.

Meantime, Trump also addressed North Korea, saying again he believes a deal is ahead with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un over his nuclear arms and long-range missile programs.

But the U.S. leader, chairing the Security Council for the first time, warned all existing UN sanctions must be honored by all countries to keep the pressure on Kim. Some countries are violating those, he said, saying things like “ship-to-ship transfers … must end immediately.”

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.