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'Not foreign policy': Democrats blast Trump's tepid Hong Kong response

NBC News logo NBC News 5 days ago Dareh Gregorian
a man standing next to a helicopter: President Donald Trump walks towards reporters from the Marine One helicopter to speak to them prior to boarding Air Force One for travel to Pennsylvania from Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, NJ on Aug. 13, 2019. © Jonathan Ernst President Donald Trump walks towards reporters from the Marine One helicopter to speak to them prior to boarding Air Force One for travel to Pennsylvania from Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, NJ on Aug. 13, 2019.

Democrats on Tuesday criticized President Donald Trump over his response to the recent unrest in Hong Kong, where protesters clashed with police in riot gear in the city's main airport terminal.

Asked by a reporter if the Chinese should show restraint against the demonstrators, Trump said "the Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation. We’ll see what happens. But I’m sure it’ll work out. I hope it works out for everybody, including China, by the way. I hope it works out for everybody."

He also called it "a very tricky situation. I think it’ll work out. And I hope it works out for liberty. I hope it works out for everybody, including China. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurts. I hope nobody gets killed."

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., tweeted, "These answers show that Trump doesn’t know about the situation in Hong Kong and doesn’t care. He sounds like he got cold-called to talk about homework he didn’t do. America’s commander in chief is asleep at the wheel and the whole world is worse for it."

The comments — which Trump made en route to a speech in Pennsylvania — came after he tweeted that, "Intelligence has has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!"

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., responded with one line on Twitter, saying "This is not foreign policy."

"It's hard to overstate how meaningful support or backing from the U.S. is to the work of human rights and democracy activists overseas," Murphy said. "It's also hard to overstate how devastating it is when they risk it all to speak up for these "American" values, and America is silent."

Protesters have been in the streets for months, pushing back against what they fear could be a crackdown on their freedoms by the People's Republic of China.

Republicans and Democrats have rallied behind the protesters, with much stronger statements than the president.

"The people of Hong Kong are bravely standing up to the Chinese Communist Party as Beijing tries to encroach on their autonomy and freedom. Any violent crackdown would be completely unacceptable. As I have said on the Senate floor: The world is watching," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted on Monday.

Republican leaders did not criticize the president's response, but some Democrats said Trump is sending a bad message to the rest of the world.

"Well he's already made it about himself," South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg told MSNBC on Tuesday. "And he's on Twitter when he should probably be in the Situation Room trying to figure out how the U.S. could in some way be an effective voice for stability and de-escalation over there before this becomes an even bigger regional security problem, and before people standing up for their values just as we would come to harm."

"The protesters in Hong Kong are standing up for the basic rights they've long been promised. The world should stand up and condemn China's aggression, even if our President won't," tweeted Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. "I stand with the people of Hong Kong as they fight for their freedom.

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