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Trump warns of ‘complete decoupling’ from China despite talks

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President Donald Trump warned Thursday the United States had the option to separate from China’s deeply intertwined economy, despite the powers’ pledges to move forward on a trade deal.

Tensions have been mounting between Beijing and Washington on a number of fronts including trade, although the two sides signed a “phase one” deal earlier this year to bring a truce to a bruising trade war.

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The US “certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China. Thank you!” Trump tweeted.

The US president wrote that he was responding to comments by his trade representative Robert Lighthizer, who has been at the forefront of trade negotiations with Beijing.

Lighthizer told a congressional committee this week that China so far has been living up to the terms of a “phase one” agreement that eased the dispute, but that decoupling the two economic giants was now impossible.

“That was a policy option years ago, but I don’t think it’s a policy or reasonable policy option at this point,” Lighthizer said.

Lighthizer described himself as a hardliner on China policy, and outlined the Trump administration’s plans to “reset” the World Trade Organization, largely so that it can better rein in Beijing’s policies, which he says run afoul of free trade rules.

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But his admission that the world’s two largest economies are inextricably linked — despite Trump’s aggressive campaign to push American firms to relocate production to the United States — caused some angst in Republican circles.

On Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing that “trying to artificially cut global industrial and supply chains, and using political power to change the laws of the economy, is neither realistic nor wise”.

“This cannot solve the US’ problems and will only cause ordinary Americans more harm,” he added.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a senior Chinese official also confirmed to him Beijing’s commitment to phase one, which includes China stepping up purchases of US products.

Pompeo met Wednesday in Hawaii with Yang Jiechi, a veteran maker of Chinese foreign policy, in Hawaii to discuss soaring tensions.

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Besides trade, the United States has sharply criticized China over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, an upcoming security law in Hong Kong and its mass detention of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

Senior US diplomat David Stilwell, who accompanied Pompeo, said the United States insisted on a “more reciprocal” relationship but declined to discuss the discussions in depth.

“Whether or not they were productive or not, I will look at what comes up in the next couple of weeks. You’ll see a reduction in aggressive behavior or not,” Stilwell told reporters.

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“If they come to the table with a reasonable proposal, the US is obviously going to treat it reasonably and look for ways to work toward a positive outcome.”


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2020 Election

WATCH: CNN fact checker shows how Trump campaign ‘egregiously altered’ Biden photos in new ad

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CNN fact checker Daniel Dale on Thursday showed on President Donald Trump's campaign has been blatantly manipulating photos of former Vice President Joe Biden to make it look like he has spent the last year sitting in his basement.

While appearing on "New Day," Dale dissected images of Biden in Trump's new ad and showed how the campaign used Photoshop to put the photos in a completely different context.

"[The ad] uses three misleading images, one of which is egregiously altered," Dale said. "That first image shows Joe Biden speaking at a town hall in Iowa outdoors at a nature preserve... what the ad does is remove the microphone from his hand and remove the trees, replacing it with a wall to make him seem like he's alone and not talking to anyone."

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Expert explains the psychopathology that underlies Trump’s dictatorial behavior

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I’m not being hyperbolic or melodramatic when I say that democracy itself is on the line on November 3. Donald Trump has been on a mission to subvert our democracy and to push it toward an autocracy. No president has ever disavowed democracy like Trump. No president has ever wanted to change our democratic way of life like Trump.

Trump has shown little interest or intent in following our Constitution. He is not abiding by the emoluments clause. He breaks norms and rules at will. He does not recognize that the three branches of government are co-equal. He operates as if the executive branch has total power. Our democracy is not based on the executive branch having absolute power. It requires that the three branches have separate powers in a check-and-balances system. Trump impugns democracy because it limits his power and requires him to be held accountable.

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‘Donald who?’ Presidential historian predicts GOP support for Trump will erode in the face of a ‘blue wave’

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MSNBC's Jon Meacham predicts that President Donald Trump won't be able to count on Republican support through a lengthy vote-counting process.

The historian and author told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that GOP support may wane if Democrats strengthen their House majority and take over the Senate from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, even if the results of the presidential election aren't known until weeks later.

"There's a much better chance that Joe Biden will end up somewhat centering the Democratic Party than anybody is going to come along and center the Republican Party," Meacham said, "and I think that's an existential threat to a Republican Party that has sold its soul, the check bounced, and they've got to figure out what are they going to do to attempt to be something approaching majority party in this demographically changing country."

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