Sep 14, 2018

Trump tweets shred Mnuchin’s credibility in China trade talks

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Bloomberg reported at noon today that President Donald Trump has now directed his staff to proceed with the next round of tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports.

What's happening: On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had extended an invitation to senior economic official Liu He to return to D.C. for another round of talks.

The other side: The Chinese side acknowledged the invitation but has not yet agreed, and between Trump's decision to move forward on the next round of tariffs and a Thursday tweet, I doubt they will accept.

Trump may have already decreased the likelihood Liu will return to D.C. by tweeting on Thursday:

My thought bubble: It's going to take a lot of backchannel reassurances and promises to get Liu back to D.C. The Chinese understand that there's disagreement among Trump's top advisers and Liu has been humiliated on two recent trips to D.C.

  • Liu did not get even a handshake with Trump when he came to D.C. in early March.
  • And, in May he thought he had reached a deal to suspend the trade war, only to have Trump reject it in a tweet.

The bottom line: That "reversal-by-tweet" methodology also shredded any remaining credibility Mnuchin had in Beijing, so unless the Chinese are hearing directly from Trump or other top members of his inner circle, they are going to be very wary.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 782,319 — Total deaths: 37,582 — Total recoveries: 164,565.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 161,807 — Total deaths: 2,953 — Total recoveries: 5,595.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. State updates: Rural-state governors say testing is still inadequate, contradicting Trump — Virginia, Maryland and D.C. issue stay-at-home orders to residents, joining 28 other states.
  5. Business latest: Ford and General Electric aim to make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days.
  6. In photos: Navy hospital ship arrives in Manhattan.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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First U.S. service member dies from coronavirus

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The Pentagon on Monday announced the death of a member of the New Jersey National Guard who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's the first U.S. service member — active, reserve or Guard — to die from the virus, according to the Pentagon. The guardsman passed away on Saturday after being hospitalized for the novel coronavirus on March 21.

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