The U.S. and Canada insist the arrest of a Chinese executive is a purely legal matter. Trump just made it political.

Protesters seek Meng Wanzhou's release in Canada
(Image credit: Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Canada's Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, on a U.S. warrant has roiled U.S.-China trade negotiations and Chinese-Canadian relations. The dicey situation got even more complicated on Tuesday, when Canada confirmed that Chinese security agents arrested former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig for unspecified reasons and President Trump said he would consider intervening in the Meng case, politicizing what U.S. and Canadian officials have insisted is purely a legal affair. A judge in Vancouver also agreed to release Meng on $7.5 million bail.

The U.S. accuses Meng, the 46-year-old daughter of Huawei's founder, of conspiracy to defraud banks about the company's alleged violations of Iran sanctions. If she is extradited to the U.S. and convicted, Meng faces decades in jail. When Reuters asked Trump on Tuesday if he would intervene in the Meng case, he said he might.

"Whatever's good for this country, I would do," he said. "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." It's possible Meng could be released, he added. "It's also possible it will be a part of negotiations. But we'll speak to the Justice Department, we'll speak to them, we'll get a lot of people involved."

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"The U.S. and China have tried to keep Meng's case separate from their wider trade dispute," The Associated Press reports. "Trump undercut that message." Also, "an intervention by Trump would seem to confirm China's suspicion that this is not a legal proceeding but a political negotiation," The Washington Post adds, "potentially changing the terms of the conflict."

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