Former President Donald Trump ordered his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to "shut the hell up" about China's mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic because he didn't want to anger the regime, Semafor reported Thursday.
In Pompeo's upcoming memoir "Never Give An Inch," he "recounts a March 26 call between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, one day after the secretary of state said that China had 'repeatedly delayed' sharing information about the virus and engaged in a 'disinformation campaign,'" reported Shelby Talcott and Dave Weigel.
"According to Pompeo, who listened in to the call, Xi told Trump that his cabinet member was jeopardizing the 'phase one' trade deal that the principals had just agreed to," said the report. "Pompeo believed that Xi was trying to get Trump to fire him — 'My Mike, that f---ing guy hates you!' the president said after the call — and a few days later, in the Oval Office, Trump told Pompeo he was 'putting us all at risk' by angering Xi, in part because the United States still needed protective health equipment from China. 'Stop, for God’s sake!' said the president."
In recent years, Republicans have taken a hardline stance against China, blaming them in particular for mismanaging the original COVID outbreak and potentially lying about how it first infected people — although virologists still remain split on exactly what happened.
There has also been a more bipartisan rethinking of the relationship between the U.S. and China and an effort to limit China from U.S. energy and technology supply chains for national security reasons, as China adopts more repressive policies and threatens the security of Taiwan.
The issue has played out all over the country, with unsuccessful Ohio Senate candidate Tim Ryan promising to take on China and Virginia's Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin even canceling a Ford battery manufacturing plant worth 2,500 jobs over concerns of the venture's ties to a Chinese firm.
Trump himself, despite his controversial insistence on calling COVID-19 the "Chinese Virus," actually praised China's handling of the pandemic repeatedly while he was in office, in the hopes of being able to secure a trade agreement.
All of this comes as Trump gears up for another run for president in 2024, and as Pompeo takes steps to potentially challenge him for the nomination himself.