President Trump on China’s handling of COVID-19: ‘We could cut off the whole relationship’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump made one of his strongest comments yet in dealing with China in the wake of the communist country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“There are many things we could do,” President Trump told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo Thursday. “We could cut off the whole relationship.”

The Trump administration has been mulling avenues to possibly punish or seek financial compensation from China for what it sees as withholding information about the virus.

The president, appearing exclusively on “Mornings with Maria,” raised the impact of ending relations.

“Now, if you did, what would happen?,” asked President Trump. “You’d save $500 billion if you cut off the whole relationship.”

However, President Trump and his team used other tactics to demonstrate displeasure with China’s actions. On Monday, the administration cut investment ties between U.S. federal retirement funds and Chinese equities.

In a letter obtained exclusively by FOX Business, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and President Trump’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow wrote on Monday to U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia that the White House does not want the Thrift Savings Plan — which is a federal employee retirement fund — to have money invested in Chinese equities that numbers about $4 billion in assets.

Scalia then wrote to Michael Kennedy, the chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, and shared the Kudlow and O’Brien correspondence and telling Kennedy that investments in China pose “investment risk and national security” risks.

As for China’s response to inquiries about the spread of the coronavirus from the U.S., President Trump told Maria Bartiromo: “We asked to go over and they said no. They didn’t want our help. And I figured that was OK because they must know what they are doing. So it was either stupidity, incompetence or deliberate.”

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