WASHINGTON — ZTE Corp. once again appeared to teeter on the brink of demise Tuesday as senior Republican senators signaled that President Donald Trump was unlikely to block a congressional effort to derail a deal he brokered to resuscitate the Chinese telecommunications giant.
The president hasn’t issued tweets urging Republicans to stand down, and lawmakers detect no backlash building within Congress against the move to unravel the White House agreement.
“I don’t think the president cares about ZTE,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters. “Someone told me that he gave [GOP lawmakers] a wink and a nod and told them he didn’t care. I don’t know if true or not, but I think he did what he did for the Chinese leader but he doesn’t really care what Congress does.”
Trump had spent the previous week in closed-door meetings trying to sell Senate Republicans on the deal, which coincided with his effort to build goodwill with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of this week’s talks with North Korea about denuclearization. And in a briefing late on Monday with GOP senators, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross again tried to get lawmakers to drop their resistance to the ZTE agreement.
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