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President Trump speaks while Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross listens. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Trump administration's $1 billion penalty deal with Chinese telecom giant ZTE — which has repeatedly violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea and is seen by the Pentagon as a threat to national security — has some in Congress fuming.

Why it matters: President Trump has consistently promised to be a hardliner on China, but several lawmakers from both sides of the aisle argue the administration's willingness to cut a deal with ZTE shows a flagrant disregard of the advice given by Trump's intelligence and defense officials in return for an on-again, off-again pursuit of a trade deal with China.

Be smart: Lawmakers also worry the deal points to a larger concern — that Trump's tough talk on global trade is simply tough talk, and that his true actions show he's easily convinced to back down at the first sign he can cut a deal and tout it as a political win.

What they're saying
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): "I assure you with 100% confidence that #ZTE is a much greater national security threat than steel from Argentina or Europe. #VeryBadDeal"
  • Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA): "I’m sure ZTE makes a fine cell phone, but they’re a little too close to the Communist Party of China for my tastes."
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY): "@realDonaldTrump should be aiming his trade fire at China, but instead he inexplicably aims it at allies like Canada, Mexico and Europe. When it comes to China, despite his tough talk, this deal with ZTE proves the president just shoots blanks."
  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): 'The Trump administration is giving ZTE and China the green light to spy on Americans and sell our technology to North Korea and Iran ... The only question is whether this was the price of Ivanka’s trademarks".
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): "Is the President so desperate for a deal — any deal — that he is willing to put Chinese jobs ahead of our national security".
  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA): "[U]nless the Trump Administration plans to open an FBI counter-intel field office inside the company, Beijing is about to get one heck of a deal on a backdoor into US telecom networks."
  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): "The Trump #ChinaFirst policy strikes again. Cuts a deal with ZTE to save Chinese jobs and gets nothing for our economy ... He’s tougher on Canada than he is on Chinese currency manipulation".

Go deeper

32 mins ago - Health

Treasury begins dispersing $350 billion in COVID relief funding to states and localities

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury on Monday began giving state and local governments access to $350 billion in emergency funding from the American Rescue Plan, the department announced Monday.

Why it matters: Though the money is aimed at helping state, local, territorial and tribal governments recover from the pandemic's economic fallout, the administration will generally give them wide latitude on how they can use the funds.

Game developers break silence around salaries

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Developers are sharing their salaries on Twitter under the hashtag #GameDevPaidMe to encourage pay transparency in their industry.

The big picture: The hashtag started circulating last year, but has returned periodically as developers fight for better working conditions. Salary sharing is a way to equalize the field. By removing the secrecy, as well as the stigma, around discussing pay, workers have more power to advocate for themselves when negotiating salaries and raises.

1 hour ago - World

Jerusalem crisis: Hamas fires rockets, Israel begins military campaign

Palestinian protesters and an Israeli police officer near the Damascus Gate. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Days of tensions in Jerusalem escalated into an exchange of fire on Monday, as Hamas fired dozens of rockets toward Israel and the Israeli military responded with strikes of its own and said it was preparing for a military operation that could last several days.

Why it matters: This is the first time Hamas has fired rockets at Jerusalem since 2014, and the most serious escalation between the Israelis and Palestinians in many months. It comes during the most sensitive days on the calendar — the last days of Ramadan and the Jerusalem Day commemoration on Monday — and amid political crises in both countries.