Congressional Leaders Downplay Trump Call With Taiwan

Republicans called the hubbub over Trump's call with the Taiwanese president "much ado about nothing."

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders downplayed the significance of President-elect Donald Trump’s call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen Tuesday, calling concerns overblown.

“It’s prudent for him to take congratulatory calls, absolutely,” Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Tuesday morning. “I spoke with the president of Taiwan when she was transferring planes in Miami a couple months ago.”

“I think there is a lot of much ado about nothing about this,” he added. “And I think for him to not take a congratulatory call would in and of itself be considered a snub.”

The U.S. has adhered to a “One China” policy for the past four decades, treating Taiwan as part of China, rather than an independent state. Trump’s call with the Taiwanese president, therefore, raised eyebrows and prompted the White House to reaffirm that there had been no shift in U.S. policy.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday suggested people were “overplaying” the stakes of the call. “I think world leaders, if they want to call and congratulate the President of the United States, it is not going to change policy that America has,” McCarthy told reporters.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations who is still in the running for secretary of state, said Trump's call with Taiwan shows how "accessible" he is. "He got a call, and he took it," Corker told reporters. "A lot more is being read into it."

"It's a really open, casual environment up there [in Trump Tower]," Corker said.