Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt appeared on “Fox News Sunday” this week, granting his third national TV interview in two weeks. The Republican began by praising the “great example” left by former President George H.W. Bush, who died Friday at age 94.
Moderator Chris Wallace asked Blunt about his impressions on trade developments at the G-20 Summit which took place Friday and Saturday in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Blunt said the signing of a long in the making trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico was a major breakthrough.
“That’s a big step that six months ago or even just a few weeks ago we were concerned we would not be making that kind of progress,” said Blunt.
President Donald Trump, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada signed the pact Friday that must still receive the approval of Congress. Trump was recorded saying “get me out of here” as he strode offstage during a photo op before the summit ended.
Blunt said the trade war with China was having a negative impact on the economy, but expressed approval of Trump’s stated purpose of getting China to trade more fairly.
“I would like to see China become the market that they should be for us,” said Blunt. “But I would also like to see China create the opportunities for American companies that invest there, to do things besides just steal our intellectual property and violate the agreements that China has clearly made and doesn’t stand up to.”
The U.S. says President Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, made an agreement at the G-20 Summit to halt new trade tariffs for 90 days. Trump agreed not to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on January 1st. In addition, the U.S. says China will buy a “very substantial” amount of agricultural, industrial and energy products.
While commenting on trade developments, Blunt did admit to being frustrated by the impact the trade war with China was having on the agriculture industry in Missouri and other states.
“The ag products that come from my state, that come from the middle of the country, I think the soybean exports to China have gone to virtually zero from about one out of every three rows of Missouri soybeans were being exported to China,” Blunt said. “So whether it’s those kinds of crops, or pork, or beef, or chicken, we need to see some real specific figures here. This has hurt a lot of Missouri farm families and farm families all over the country.”
The native of southwest Missouri’s Niangua was asked about the investigations being conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Blunt said lying by President Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to the committee is a “big mistake”.
“I certainly do think that lying to the Intelligence Committee that I’m part of is a big mistake for whoever does it, and creates lots of problems for the committee itself,” said Blunt.
The second term Missouri Senator said lying to the committee could lead its investigation down the wrong path and waste countless hours of its work.
Cohen pleaded guilty last week to making misstatements to Congress while testifying about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. He also agreed to a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. Cohen pleaded guilty to numerous crimes in August, including campaign finance violations, which he indicated he did with President Trump’s knowledge.
During his interview on FOX, Blunt credited President Trump for canceling a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit quickly after Russia seized Ukrainian Navy ships and sailors during a confrontation between the two countries. He said that if President Trump spoke to Putin, he should’ve expressed strong disapproval of the action.
“If the president had a chance to talk to President Putin, I hope his talk was very frank and no holds barred that we are not going to accept the kind of activity that the Russians are looking at in Ukraine and Crimea and we better send a strong message about the rest of Eastern Europe,” Blunt said.
Russia’s position on the incident has not changed since it attacked Ukrainian ships more than a week ago. Trump’s abrupt move to cancel the meeting with Putin came shortly after Cohen admitted to negotiating to build a tower in Moscow much later during the 2016 presidential election than previously acknowledged. A spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, said she believed Trump’s cancellation was, “rooted in the domestic political situation in the U.S.”
Blunt’s interview on Fox News Sunday came two weeks after he made two appearances on national TV news programs – FOX News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” and ABC’s “This Week”. Blunt was recently elected as chairman of the Senate “Policy Committee”, the fourth-ranking GOP leadership position in the chamber.
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