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Schumer: Trump Must be Tough on China to Deal with North Korea

by Leigh Ann Caldwell /
Image: Senate Minority Leader-elect Chuck Schumer
Senate Minority Leader-elect Chuck Schumer of N.Y. speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Nov. 18, 2016.Alex Brandon / AP, file

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office aren't going well and that his posture with China is going to make the situation with North Korea more difficult.

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continue to escalate and Trump warned that a "major, major" conflict could erupt over that nation's nuclear ambitions in an interview with Reuters Tuesday.

"The key to winning North Korea is China," Schumer told NBC News in a wide-ranging interview Friday, adding that Trump’s cozy position with China won’t help it. "The way to get China to do something is not to be nice to them but is to hit them hard on trade."

Schumer said that Trump, who has framed himself as a master negotiator, has been a poor negotiator on the world stage.

And after Trump said he would not withdraw from NAFTA without trying to rework some components, Schumer said the free trade agreement can only be improved if he’s a good negotiator with Mexico and Canada.

“He's got to be a tough negotiator,” Schumer said. “If he is anything like he's been with China, nothing much will be accomplished, unfortunately.”

Schumer has personal experience negotiating with Trump on the latest round of government funding. The president backed down from a central campaign promise with this round of government appropriations, saying that he would no longer ask for a down-payment to begin construction for the border wall, an issue that Democrats said they would not support.

But Schumer said that when he talked with Trump on the phone in recent weeks about the funding bill, the president never even brought up the wall.

“He's friendly but he’s not — every time he's called me, it has not been on a major subject,” Schumer said.

Schumer also responded to Trump’s comment to Reuters that he thought being president would be “easier.”

“Good morning,” Schumer said.

While Schumer focused his criticism on Trump, he was unable to name one leader of the Democratic Party, saying, "lot's of people."

Still, he predicted his party could benefit politically from Trump's presidency. "I’ll tell you this, if the president continues in the rest of his first two years as he did in these first 100 days, there’s even a chance we could take back the Senate."

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