Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lightizer released a blunt statement over the weekend informing readers that a Wall Street Journal report has missed the mark. The WSJ reported, more than once, that the U.S. had agreed to cut Chinese tariffs in half following their recent trade agreement.
I've never seen a statement like this from USTR or Mnuchin in my time covering the Trump administration: pic.twitter.com/e2oSxrSPSs— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) December 15, 2019
"We have said publicly and on the record that this is totally false, untrue and baseless," Lightizer and Mnuchin said of the WSJ's anonymously sourced story. "It did not happen."
"In addition and to be completely clear, we have personally, and on the record, told Mr. Davis and another Wall Street Journal reporter repeatedly that this is utterly false," they add. "No such offer was ever made to China by the United States. There is not a single knowledgeable American negotiator who would support this falsehood. Further, there is no Chinese negotiator who could honestly be this source."
The administration officials concluded their joint statement by urging the Wall Street Journal to issue a correction.
The White House revealed "phase one" of the U.S.-China trade deal last week, which will double U.S. exports to China over the next two years.
"This is a very large deal — the China deal," Trump said at a press conference. "It covers tremendous manufacturing, farming — a lot of rules, regulations. A lot of things are covered. It’s a phase one deal, but a lot of big things are covered. And I say, affectionately: The farmers are going to have to go out and buy much larger tractors, because it means a lot of business — a tremendous amount of business."
President Trump tweeted that they will begin Phase Two "immediately."