Trump told me ‘You’re a brutal killer’, EU’s Juncker says

Jean-Claude Juncker has been called many things during his premiership of Luxembourg and presidency of the European Commission, but probably never what he says U.S. President Donald Trump called him at the weekend: “a brutal killer”.

Juncker, who attended a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major powers in Canada last week, spoke about his encounter with Trump in a speech to Bavaria’s regional assembly in Munich on Thursday.

“Trump told me last week: ‘Jean-Claude – you are a brutal killer’,” Juncker said. “It is the first time Luxembourg has become such a danger to the United States. I think he meant it as a compliment, but I am not sure.”

The G7 summit failed to heal a growing rift between the United States and the other powers, many of which Trump accuses of trade policies that unfairly disadvantage the United States.

European Union countries on Thursday unanimously backed a plan to impose import duties on 2.8 billion euros’ ($3.3 billion) worth of U.S. products in response to U.S. tariffs on EU steel and aluminum, EU sources said.

“We cannot leave the tariffs unanswered. I’m not in a mood for war at all but I do not accept that we are dictated from elsewhere what we have to do in Europe,” Juncker said. “This is an independent continent. Many have fought for this.”

[Reuters]

Trump Reportedly Told G7 Leaders Crimea is Part of Russia Because They Speak Russian

A new report suggests that Donald Trump parroted Vladimir Putin last week when he spoke to his fellow world leaders about re-admiting Russia into the G7.

Trump bemoaned Putin’s absence throughout the international gathering, which added to the contentiousness as he spoke with foreign dignitaries in Toronto. Diplomatic sources told Buzzfeed that when when Trump engaged with world leaders over dinner, he spoke of how Crimea is Russian because so many people who live there speak the language.

From the report:

During the dinner, Trump also seemed to question why the G7 leaders were siding with Ukraine. The president told leaders that “Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” the source said.

Russia used to be part of the former G8, but they were expelled over the 2014 invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Putin often justifies the intervention campaign by saying Russia had to protect the citizens living in the region.

Trump defended his comments in an interview last night, telling Fox New’s Bret Baier that if Putin was in Quebec, he could’ve asked him to pull Russia out of Syria and Ukraine as a “favor.” Baier reminded Trump why Russia was kicked out of the G8, though POTUS responded that Putin didn’t respect Barack Obama‘s leadership, even though the former president led the charge for Putin’s expulsion.

[Mediaite]

Trump rips Canada, NATO in Singapore tweetstorm

President Donald Trump started his day in Singapore on Monday blasting the Canadian Prime Minister and slamming NATO just after meeting with the U.S. allies at the G-7 meeting in Quebec.

“Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal,” Trump tweeted Monday morning in Singapore. “According to a Canada release, they make almost 100 Billion Dollars in Trade with U.S. (guess they were bragging and got caught!). Minimum is 17B. Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!”

Trump was referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the tweet.

The president has accused Canada of taking advantage of American workers through their trade practices.

According to the U.S. trade representative, however, there was an $8.4 billion U.S. trade surplus with Canada on goods and services in 2017.

Trump also took aim at NATO for relying too heavily on the U.S. for their security.

“The U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!),” Trump tweeted. “The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!”

The U.S. pays 22% of NATO’s budget — higher than any other nation.

The U.S. has pushed NATO member nations to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP — a benchmark some have been unable to meet.

Trump was in Singapore preparing for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!” Trump wrote.

[New York Post]

Donald Trump warns NATO members will be ‘dealt with’ if they refuse to pay more for military alliance

Donald Trump singled out Germany in renewing his criticism of Nato members he accuses of not contributing enough, saying laggards would be “dealt with”.

Speaking alongside Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, at the White House, Mr Trump reiterated a longstanding charge that America bears a disproportionate share of supporting the military alliance’s activities.

Germany “has not contributed what it should be contributing and it’s a very big beneficiary”, said the president, who has long had a frosty relationship with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

The president’s world view is rooted in a belief that the US has consistently been taken advantage of by international pacts and organisations – a scepticism that fuels his unilaterally focused “America First” stance.

During the presidential campaign, he suggested America might only defend Nato allies if they had “fulfilled their obligations to us”.

Despite Mr Trump’s wariness, Mr Stoltenberg praised the president for impelling other nations to augment defense spending, saying “it is impacting allies because now all allies are increasing defense spending”.

During the presidential campaign, he suggested America might only defend Nato allies if they had “fulfilled their obligations to us”.

Despite Mr Trump’s wariness, Mr Stoltenberg praised the president for impelling other nations to augment defence spending, saying “it is impacting allies because now all allies are increasing defence spending”.

[The Independent]

Media

Trump Fires Back at Merkel, Says Germany is ‘Very Bad’ For The US

President Donald Trump has criticized Germany once again for its large trade surplus with the U.S. and its low contributions to NATO, saying this attitude is “very bad” for the United States.

The comments made on Twitter take current tensions in U.S.-German relations a notch higher.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said at an election rally on Sunday that Germany and the European Union can no longer rely on the United States.

“The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over,” she told the rally in Munich.

“I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she said. Her comments came as she steps up her campaign in the September federal election.

The image of friendly relations between Germany and the U.S. seems distant since Trump took office. His administration has previously said that Germany’s trade surplus is a result of the country’s manipulation of the euro.

Germany fought back arguing that it doesn’t have powers to manipulate the euro and the only reason consumers opt for its products is because they are more competitive.

Data released last February by the German Federal Statistics Office showed that Germany’s trade surplus rose to 252.9 billion euros ($270.05 billion) in 2016, surpassing the previous high of 244.3 billion euros in 2015. If it were a single trade partner, Germany would be the fifth largest in total trade flows with the U.S. But it runs the third largest trade surplus, after China and Japan.

Meanwhile, contributions to the defense alliance NATO has emerged as another problem between Berlin and Washington. Trump has repeatedly asked NATO allies to step up their contributions. At the moment, only 5 of the 28 members fulfill the target of paying at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

According to NATO data, Germany is currently spending 1.2 percent of its GDP on NATO. The U.S. spends 3.6 percent.

At a summit last week, Germany, like other NATO members, vowed to present an action plan on how it will increase defense spending. At the time, Trump told his allies they were being unfair toward U.S. taxpayers.

[CNBC]

Allies Distance Themselves From U.S. After Trump’s First Foreign Trip

President Trump received a largely cordial welcome on the first overseas trip of his presidency. But now that he’s returned to Washington, the foreign leaders he met with are increasingly blunt in their reviews of the American president.

In separate remarks intended mostly for domestic consumption, leaders of Germany, France and Israel all sought to distance themselves from Trump, just days after meeting with the president during his nine-day foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, Brussels and Italy.

Among the sources of friction: Trump’s reluctance to unreservedly commit to the North Atlantic alliance, his skepticism of a climate change accord signed on to by his predecessor, President Obama, and outreach to Palestinians in pursuit of a Middle East peace agreement.

“It’s clear that in Europe at least, that anti-Trump position plays well domestically,” said Ivo Daalder, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO in the Obama administration. “But the larger issue is that the trip didn’t go well in Europe.”

The dynamic is partly one of Trump’s brash style. “I think what grates on European leaders is the sense that he does not treat them as equals, let alone as allies,” Daalder said. “He approaches them in this confrontational way, in an attempt to constantly get a better deal out of them.”

Trump hasn’t spoken about the trip publicly, avoiding press conferences for the entire journey. But on Twitter, he pronounced the mission a triumph. “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.

The reaction abroad was more cautious:

France: New French President Emmanuel Macron said his now-famous white-knuckled handshake with Trump was a deliberate attempt to demonstrate that he wouldn’t be bullied by the American president. “One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either,” he told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche“My handshake with him — it wasn’t innocent.”

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday at a Bavarian beer hall that Europe can no longer “fully rely” on its overseas allies. On climate issues, she said, the Group of Seven meeting was “seven against one” — counting the European Union as part of the seven (and the United States as the one). Her chief political rival took umbrage at the way Trump sought to “humiliate” Merkel in Brussels. “I reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the head of our country’s government,” said Martin Schulz, who is challenging Merkel for the chancellorship as an “anti-Trump” candidate. He said Trump was “acting like an autocratic leader.”

United Kingdom: British Prime Minister Theresa May is upset that American intelligence officials leaked information about the Manchester concert bombing to the media. Trump acknowledged that he got an earful from May, tweeting Sunday that she was “very angry” about the leaks. “Gave me full details!”

Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said Israel has “no better friend” than Trump, appeared to hold the president at arm’s length on Monday. Speaking to members of his conservative Likud party, Netanyahu warned that a Trump-brokered peace negotiation with the Palestinians “comes at a price.” And while he welcomed U.S. support for Israel, he emphasized that “there is no such thing as innocent gifts.”

Palestinian Authority: An Israeli television station reported that Trump shouted at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during their meeting in Bethlehem last week yelling, “You tricked me!” and accusing the Palestinian Authority of inciting violence in the West Bank. (The Palestinians denied the report.)

Trump’s trip began in Saudi Arabia with a summit of Muslim Arab leaders — and they’re perhaps the least likely to grumble. After feeling neglected by Obama, the Saudis welcomed a $110 billion arms package and Trump’s more bellicose rhetoric toward mutual enemies like Iran and the Islamic State.

But in Europe, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy appeared to alienate other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the 68-year-old alliance intended to contain Russia — the country at the center of a growing controversy over ties to Trump aides.

At a ceremony meant to solemnize the collective defense provision of the NATO charter in Brussels, Trump failed to explicitly reassure European allies that the U.S. would come to their aid in the event of an attack. Instead, he renewed his complaints that they were not paying their fair share. (In doing so, he misrepresented the commitment by NATO allies to spend at least 2% of their economies on defense.)

And in Sicily, where leaders of the G-7 economic powers gathered, Trump continued his hard-line stance on climate and trade issues. He reportedly told Merkel that Germany was “bad” or “evil” (depending on the translation) because of its trade imbalance with the United States.

But among Trump supporters, his tough talk to foreign leaders drew raves. Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he “could not be more pleased” with Trump’s international travels.

“The trip was executed to near perfection and it appears the president has made great progress on the broad range of objectives,” he said after speaking with Trump on Sunday.

[USA Today]

Trump Claims Defense Money is Pouring Into NATO After Speech

President Trump on Saturday claimed that money was “beginning to pour in” to NATO, just two days after he gave a speech scolding allies for not paying their fair share at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

“Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger,” Trump tweeted Saturday.

Trump’s wording misrepresents how NATO is organized by suggesting that nations pay the alliance; each nation funds its own defense spending under the NATO umbrella. There is not a specific fund money would be pouring into.

Trump has frequently assailed the treaty organization as “unfair” to the U.S., arguing that other member states have long failed to uphold their defense spending commitments. Only five NATO countries — the U.S., Greece, Estonia, the U.K. and Poland — have met the treaty’s agreement that countries spend at least 2 percent of their annual GDP on defense by 2024.

Trump reiterated that sentiment while speaking to NATO allies this week, saying the members “must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations.”

[The Hill]

‘The Germans Are Bad, Very Bad’: Trump Pledges to ‘Stop’ German Car Sales to US

President Donald Trump is ready to fight Germany in an auto battle according to Germany’s Der Spiegel.

Trump got a chilly reception at the NATO summit in Belgium after attacking fellow members. But he was caught pledging a battle with German automakers as part of his anger with “back dues” he feels the country owes to NATO. As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted Thursday, “Trump seems to think it’s like a country club.”

In a discussion about the country’s trade surplus, Trump said. “The Germans are evil, very evil.”

“Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US, and we’ll stop that,” sources told Der Spiegel.

According to the report, EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker took up for Germany explaining that “free trade is good for all.”

According to a report from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” the EU allies were horrified by the willingness of the Americans to view global trade with such a lack of awareness. Trump’s economic consultant Gary Cohn was said to have chided German auto trade during a discussion between the US and Germany and the USA and Belgium. Trump had previously attacked them during another conversation.

“I would say to BMW if they want to build a factory in Mexico and sell cars to the US without a 35 percent tax, they can forget that,” Trump said at the time.

The report revealed that since that comment, there has been “a threat of a criminal tax” in the room.

Trump is bothered by Germany’s trade surplus because many other countries have deficits, particularly the U.S.

[Raw Story]

Trump Blasts NATO Allies for Not Paying Fair Share

Standing before NATO allies in Brussels, President Trump offered a strong rebuke of members who are not meeting defense spending obligations — saying it’s “not fair” to American taxpayers.

“I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations. But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying, and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” said Trump.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years, and not paying in those past years,” said Trump.

[ABC News]

Reality

Donald Trump made the mistake back in July 2016 of his lack of knowledge on NATO, and in his speech in a room full of our NATO allies it was clear he still does not understand how NATO works.

Ivo Daalder, the former U.S. permanent representative on NATO, called out Trump’s misunderstanding in March 2017 in a series of tweets that begin, “Sorry Mr President, that’s not how NATO works.”

“The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending NATO. This is not a financial transaction, where NATO countries pay the US to defend them. Although it’s true that only five of 28 NATO countries spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, many are now increasing their defense budgets. That’s a good thing, but even when they do increase their defense budgets, no funds will be paid to the US, but all funds go into a pool. Europe must spend more on defense, but not as favor (or payment) to the US. But because their security requires it.”

Trump: NATO Is ‘No Longer Obsolete’

President Trump on Wednesday said that NATO is “no longer obsolete” — a big change after Trump repeatedly called the alliance obsolete on the campaign trail.

At a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said that he will continue to work closely with NATO allies, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism.

“The secretary-general and I had a productive discussion on what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism,” Trump said at Wednesday’s press conference. “I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change and now they do fight terrorism.”

“I said it was obsolete,” he continued. “It is not longer obsolete.”

During the 2016 campaign and after his election, Trump frequently criticized NATO as “obsolete” and knocked allies for not paying their “fair share.”

At Wednesday’s press conference, Trump reiterated his call that NATO allies “meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe.”

He said he discussed with Stoltenberg his desire that allies fulfill their responsibility to spent 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024.

Trump will travel to Brussels to attend a NATO summit on May 25.

(h/t The Hill)

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