Photos: Getty Images

Among the most vocal critics of President Trump's cave on his trade threats to China is Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, his former opponent on the 2016 campaign trail.

What's happening: A perfect storm of North Korea, Steve Mnuchin and a lack of internal focus has Trump backing away from tariffs against Chinese goods and reportedly floating a deal for rogue Chinese phone maker ZTE. Rubio, one of the co-chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, is tweeting a steady stream of rebukes of the White House's moves — and hinting that Congress may act to overrule Trump's decisions.

The context

Saturday saw a joint statement from the U.S. and China issued about the ongoing trade war:

  • "There was a consensus on taking effective measures to substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China ... China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services."
  • "Both sides agreed to encourage two-way investment and to strive to create a fair, level playing field for competition."

The next day, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made things clearer on Fox News Sunday:

  • "We're putting the trade war on hold, so right now we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework."

And today, The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese phonemaker ZTE had become part of the deal:

  • "The U.S. and China have agreed on the broad outline of a deal that would save imperiled Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp."
  • The background: The Commerce Department's ban that killed ZTE was put in place due to the company's repeated violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The Pentagon has also banned ZTE's phones from retail outlets on U.S. military bases due to concerns from intelligence agencies that the Chinese are using its devices to spy on Americans.
Rubio on ZTE
Rubio on the China moves

Go deeper: Rubio told Axios earlier this month that the U.S. can't remain silent on Chinese human rights violations in order to secure a better trade deal.

Go deeper

Updated 16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 31,175,205 — Total deaths: 962,076— Total recoveries: 21,294,229Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 6,829,956 — Total deaths: 199,690 — Total recoveries: 2,590,695 — Total tests: 95,121,596Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.

McConnell: Senate has "more than sufficient time" to process Supreme Court nomination

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a floor speech Monday that the chamber has "more than sufficient time" to confirm a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election, and accused Democrats of preparing "an even more appalling sequel" to the fight over Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Why it matters: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said "nothing is off the table next year" if Republicans push ahead with the confirmation vote before November, vowing alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to use "every procedural tool available to us to ensure that we buy ourselves the time necessary."

House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Democrats on Monday released their proposal for short-term legislation to fund the government through December 11.

Why it matters: This is Congress' chief legislative focus before the election. They must pass a continuing resolution (CR) before midnight on Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown — something both Hill leaders and the White House have claimed is off the table.