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Trump says would intervene in arrest of Chinese executive

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US President says he would do it to secure trade deal

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would intervene with the US Justice Department in the case against a Chinese telecommunications executive if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing.

"If I think it's good for the country, if I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made - which is a very important thing - what's good for national security - I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary," Mr Trump said in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters in the Oval Office.

Mr Trump expressed optimism that he could strike a trade deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping as the two countries struggle to resolve a dispute that has contributed to recent US stock market declines and raised questions about whether economic turmoil could beset the president in the new year.

At the request of US authorities, Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested earlier this month in Vancouver on charges of violating US sanctions against Iran.

The arrest came on the day Mr Trump and Mr Xi declared a 90-day truce in their trade war during summit talks in Buenos Aires.

Mr Trump, who wants China to open up its markets to more American-made products and stop what Washington calls the theft of intellectual property, said he had not yet spoken to Mr Xi about the case against Huawei's executive.

Over the course of the 30-minute interview, Mr Trump also addressed the controversy surrounding the Oct 2 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying he stood firmly beside Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite accusations that he was the mastermind of it.

Mr Trump refused to comment on whether the crown prince was complicit in the murder, but he provided perhaps his most explicit show of support for MbS, as the prince is known, since Khashoggi's death more than two months ago.

"He's the leader of Saudi Arabia. They've been a very good ally," Mr Trump said.

It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country. US President Donald Trump

Asked if standing beside Saudi Arabia means also standing by the crown prince, Mr Trump said: "Well, at this moment, it certainly does."

While he has condemned the murder of Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post columnist who was often critical of MbS, he has given the benefit of the doubt to the prince, with whom he has cultivated a deep relationship.

Mr Trump again reiterated on Tuesday that MbS "vehemently denies" involvement in a killing that has sparked outrage around the world.

Several of his fellow Republicans have joined Democrats in blaming the crown prince for Khashoggi's death and backing legislation to respond by ending US support for the Saudi-led war effort in Yemen, imposing new sanctions and stopping weapons sales.

Last month, the CIA assessed that MbS ordered the killing.

On the domestic front, Mr Trump waved off concerns that he could face the possibility of impeachment when Democrats, intent on greater oversight of the president, take command of the US House of Representatives in January.

"It's hard to impeach somebody who hasn't done anything wrong and who's created the greatest economy in the history of our country," he said. "I think people would revolt if that happened."

Mr Trump said the accusations in the probe on whether his campaign colluded with Russia in 2016 amounted to "peanut stuff".

Payments that he allegedly made to an adult film actress and a former Playboy model through then-lawyer Michael Cohen were not a violation of campaign finance law, he added.

Trump and Dems go toe-to-toe

WASHINGTON: An angry President Donald Trump told Democratic leaders at the White House on Tuesday that he will shut down the US government because they refused funding for his controversial Mexico border wall.

If the impasse cannot be resolved by Dec 21, about one-quarter of the federal government immediately will be left without funding. Money for the rest of the government already has been appropriated.

Here is a sampling of what went down when Mr Trump met senior Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer and Mrs Nancy Pelosi, who is likely to become Speaker in the newly Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. - AFP, REUTERS


When Mrs Pelosi said Americans did not want to see a "Trump shutdown", Mr Trump cut her off midway.
Mr Trump: If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them in one session. It would be done.
Mrs Pelosi: Well then, go do it, go do it.

When told he can't have the US$5 billion (S$7 billion) to build the wall.
Mr Trump: If we don't get what we want, one way or the other - whether it is through you, through a military, through anything you want to call - I will shut down the government. I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country.

Mr Trump, taking out two memo cards, reads off figures that he claims show the fences already erected have kept out illegal immigrants.
Mrs Pelosi: What the President is representing (with) his cards over there, are not facts. We have to have an evidence-based conversation about what does work and what money has been spent and how effective it is.

At one point, Mrs Pelosi tries to stop the row.
Mrs Pelosi: I don't think we should have a debate in front of the press on this. Let's call a halt to this.
Mr Trump: It's not bad, Nancy - it's called transparency.

After the meeting, the Democrats did not mince words
Mr Schumer: This temper tantrum that he seems to throw will not get him his wall and it will hurt a lot of people.
Mrs Pelosi on Mr Trump's wall push: (It was) like a manhood thing for him - as if manhood could ever be associated with him.

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