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

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday condemned President Trump for undermining the United States' moral authority after he told Axios in an interview that he delayed imposing sanctions against Chinese officials to facilitate a trade deal with Beijing.

Driving the news: Asked why he held off on imposing Treasury sanctions against Chinese officials involved with mass detention camps for Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, Trump told Axios: "Well, we were in the middle of a major trade deal."

  • "And I made a great deal, $250 billion potentially worth of purchases. And by the way, they're buying a lot, you probably have seen."
  • Trump continued: "And when you're in the middle of a negotiation and then all of a sudden you start throwing additional sanctions on — we've done a lot. I put tariffs on China, which are far worse than any sanction you can think of."

Why it matters: The U.S. could "lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights" if it doesn't address the atrocities in China, Pelosi wrote in a news release Monday.

  • The comments came days after Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
  • But Pelosi argued that the action "rings extraordinarily hollow in light of his clearly stated lack of interest in standing up to Beijing.”

What she's saying:

“Congress on a bipartisan basis has long spoken with one voice in defense of those persecuted by Beijing and will continue to do so.  If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial issues, we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights any place in the world.
“President Trump’s admission that he is looking the other way and enabling one of the worst human rights atrocities of our time in order to ink a trade deal is appalling.

Go deeper: Read more from Trump's interview with Axios

Go deeper

Trump's new TikTok threat

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said twice Monday that the U.S. Treasury would need to get a portion of the sale price of TikTok, as a condition of regulatory approval.

Why it matters: This is akin to extortion — the sort of thing you'd expect to hear on a wiretap, not from the White House in front of reporters.

The U.S. is now playing by China's internet rules

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's crackdown on TikTok suggests that the U.S. government is starting to see the internet more like China does — as a network that countries can and should control within their borders.

The big picture: Today's global internet has split into three zones, according to many observers: The EU's privacy-focused network; China's government-dominated network; and the U.S.-led network dominated by a handful of American companies. TikTok's fate suggests China's model has U.S. fans as well.

Trump says TikTok will be banned if not sold by Sept. 15, demands cut of sale fee

President Trump said Monday that TikTok will be shut down in the U.S. if it hasn't been bought by Microsoft or another company by Sept. 15, and argued — without elaborating — that the U.S. Treasury should get "a very substantial portion" of the sale fee.

Why it matters: Trump appears to have backed off his threat to immediately ban TikTok after speaking with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who said Sunday that the company will pursue discussions with TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance to purchase the app in the U.S.