Apr 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Democrats lay out rebuttal to Trump attacks on Biden over China

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

In the coming weeks and months, Democrats plan to argue that President Trump "rolled over" for China as the coronavirus crisis worsened because "he sought a deal to begin undoing the damage caused by his trade policies," per a new memo reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: Top Trump campaign officials said they'll paint Joe Biden as "soft" on China as a major line of attack during the 2020 race. The new memo by Democratic National Committee officials outlines a rebuttal as Biden prepares for the general election race against Trump.

  • This new memo is the sixth in a series called "In Focus: Trump’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response."

Trump's campaign this month released a controversial digital ad bashing Biden as overly friendly and deferential to Beijing.

  • The president's team has sought to turn a critical focus on the former vice president's past posture toward China to counter criticism of Trump's handling of the coronavirus or approaches to China.

What they're saying: The DNC's War Room writes in the memo that it's an understatement to call Trump weak on China and that he "rolled over in a way that has been catastrophic for our country" and "put himself and his political fortunes first."

  • The memo quotes a NYT article describing internal disputes in the administration over dealing with China, trade talks and the virus.
  • It also cites Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and economic adviser Larry Kudlow talking about how the coronavirus might interfere with trade negotiations.

The other side: "They are only doing this because Joe Biden has a big China problem," Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told Axios in an email.

  • "Democrats wailed endlessly about Trump's tough tactics on China, so it's a joke that they would now try to paint him as soft."
  • "Joe Biden called the President's travel restrictions on China 'xenophobic' and 'reactionary.' All this memo does is prove that Joe Biden and his Democrat allies are not serious people."

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The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

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Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.