Trump: ‘We save a fortune by not doing war games’

President Trump on Wednesday touted his decision to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea, insisting that the move is well worth it to preserve what he called “good faith” negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.

“We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith – which both sides are!” Trump wrote in a tweet.

The tweet came shortly after the president returned to Washington from Singapore, where he had held summit talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and signed a short document reaffirming Pyongyang’s commitment to denuclearization in exchange for unspecified security guarantees by the U.S.

Trump also announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would cease its joint military drills with South Korea — an apparent concession to Pyongyang, which has repeatedly claimed that the drills are merely a pretext for a strike on the North.

The South Koreans said early Tuesday that they would seek clarification on the president’s remarks, suggesting that they were not aware that Trump planned to offer to give up the drills in his summit with Kim. U.S. military forces in Korea also said they had not received new directions on the exercises.

Questions have been raised about the agreement signed by Trump and Kim on Tuesday, which offers virtually nothing in the way of specifics on how the North plans to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.

Instead, it commits Pyongyang to denuclearization, a promise the North has made — and broken — many times in the past.

[The Hill]

Reality

Several problems. First, Trump greatly increased military spending.
Second, “war games” is Putin’s language.
Third, Trump got this idea directly from Putin himself.

Trump Shocks Leaders With Trudeau Insult to Upend G-7 Summit

President Donald Trump told U.S. officials not to endorse the Group of Seven’s final communique and accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being dishonest, escalating a trade spat that had simmered throughout the two-day meeting.

Trump, who is on a plane to Singapore, unleashed two Twitter posts about two hours after Trudeau spoke, saying the U.S. would look at tariffs on automobiles that he said were “flooding the U.S. market.”

His comments threaten to undermine a grouping that has long acted as a defender of the global system of trade rules, and cause fresh friction with his northern neighbor as tensions percolate over efforts to redraw the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!,” Trump said on his Twitter account on Saturday evening.

The reference to cars is not new. Trump last month directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to initiate a national-security investigation into imports of cars, trucks and vehicle parts that could possibly lead to tariffs. Canada would be among the biggest losers from such a move as the second-largest supplier of foreign vehicles to the U.S.

The investigation into cars is seen by some as a way for the U.S. to gain leverage in the talks to revamp Nafta, including Mexico, which is the largest source of U.S. auto imports.

The investigation into cars is seen by some as a way for the U.S. to gain leverage in the talks to revamp Nafta, including Mexico, which is the largest source of U.S. auto imports.

Trump’s comments on Saturday came shortly after Trudeau, who was hosting the G-7 meeting in Canada, had projected an image of cooperation. At his closing press conference as the summit’s chair, Trudeau announced all G-7 nations had worked hard to finalize a joint statement, which largely committed the nations to keep talking on trade.

Still, Trudeau also gave an account of his discussions with the U.S. president. Trudeau said he told Trump in candid conversations that U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs imposed this month were “insulting” and that Canada will move forward with counter-tariffs.

Trump said that retaliation is a “mistake,” according to Trudeau.

Canada is “polite, we’re reasonable but we also will not be pushed around,” Trudeau added.

Trudeau responded with a written statement, saying his comments in public and in private with Trump were “nothing he hasn’t said before” and that he was “focused on everything we accomplished here at the G-7 summit.”

Trump left the summit early Saturday, before it officially ended, to head to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.

Copies of the communique stamped with “approuve,” or approved in French, were being circulated around the G-7 media center in Quebec City as Trump made his order on Twitter. The statement had been published online before Trump commented.

“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!,” Trump said in a second post.

Trump has complained repeatedly — including throughout the summit — about Canada’s protected dairy sector, citing 270 percent tariffs that he says stand in the way of American farmers accessing that market.

Canada’s system of quotas and tariffs for dairy, poultry and eggs, known as supply management, is something of a sacred cow — all major political parties support it, and, given the value of existing quotas, farm groups erupt when changes are discussed. Trump has called for the full dismantling of that system over 10 years.

[Bloomberg]

Trump disrupts G-7 gender equality meeting by arriving late

President Donald Trump arrived late for a gender equality meeting at an international summit, prompting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to kick it off without waiting for “stragglers” to arrive.

Trump created a distraction when he walked in late for Saturday’s breakfast meeting during the Group of Seven summit of leading industrialized nations being held in Quebec.

He missed Trudeau’s introductory statement and entered the room while Gender Equality Advisory Council co-chair Isabelle Hudon was speaking.

Security personnel had to open a path for Trump through a throng of journalists and cameramen. The camera clicks for Trump almost drowned out Hudon.

French President Emmanuel Macron stared at Trump after he sat down.

Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland later tweeted photos of the women’s empowerment meeting, showing Trump’s empty chair.

Trudeau had made the issue of gender equality a priority for the gathering. He said gender equality must “cut through” everything the G-7 does.

[PBS]

Germans Appalled by Threat From Trump’s Ambassador to Help Far-Right Nationalists Take Power Across Europe

THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT demanded a formal explanation from the United States on Monday of what, exactly, the new U.S. ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, meant when he promised to use his office to help far-right nationalists inspired by Donald Trump take power across Europe.

In an interview with Breitbart News, published on Sunday, Grenell said he was “excited” by the rise of far-right parties on the continent and wanted “to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.”

Grenell was apparently not asked if that group includes the far-right Alternative for Germany — known by its German initials AfD — the largest opposition party in the German parliament, but he did praise Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a center-right politician who is in coalition with the Freedom Party, which was formed in the 1950s by a former Nazi officer.

A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told reporters that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had “asked the U.S. side for clarification” as to whether the remarks “were made as reported.”

Grenell, a former Fox News pundit whose abrasive Twitter style had already alienated many Germans, tweeted on Monday that it was “ridiculous” to suggest that he would endorse candidates or parties, but stood by his claim to Breitbart that Europe, like America, was “experiencing an awakening from the silent majority — those who reject the elites and their bubble. Led by Trump.”

Leaving aside that Trump was, in fact, elected by a hypervocal minority of American voters, his envoy’s apparent willingness to cast off diplomatic neutrality and meddle in the internal affairs of European countries caused an uproar.

Sevim Dagdelen, a member of the left-wing German opposition party Die Linke, suggested that Grenell had revealed himself to be Trump’s “regime change envoy.”

The leaders of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, the junior coalition partner in Merkel’s government, were similarly unstinting in their condemnation. “Europe’s citizens cannot be told how to vote by a Trump vassal,” the party’s vice chair, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, wrote on Twitter. “A U.S. ambassador who meddles in democratic contests is simply out of place,” he added, perhaps hinting that the ambassador could be asked to go home.

Martin Schulz, the former leader of the Social Democrats, accused Grenell of behaving less like a diplomat than “an extreme-right colonial officer.”

Omid Nouripour, the foreign policy spokesman for Germany’s Green party, told Der Spiegel that “the American people should be able to expect partisan neutrality from their representative in Germany, because he represents all Americans, not just Breitbart and Fox News.”

Guy Verhofstadt, a former prime minister of Belgium who now leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, a free-market group in the European Parliament, tweeted: “We have to defend Europe against Trump. It’s not up to his ambassador to influence our elections and steer our society. We respect the sovereignty of the U.S., they have to respect ours.” Verhofstadt added the hashtag #GrenellRaus — “Grenell Out” — to his tweet.

There was, however, one political leader in Berlin on Monday who demonstrated his support for the embattled American ambassador. Israel’s far-right prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced at a news conference with Merkel that he had agreed to a brief meeting with Grenell, at the ambassador’s request, before leaving the German capital.

Before he was confirmed by the Senate, Grenell — a hyperpartisan Republican activist whose farewell party in New York was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Wayne Newton, and a half-dozen Fox News personalities — had promised to stay out of German politics.

[The Intercept]

Trump’s phone call with Macron described as ‘terrible’

A call about trade and migration between US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron soured last week after Macron candidly criticized Trump’s policies, two sources familiar with the call told CNN.

“Just bad. It was terrible,” one source told CNN. “Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind, based on the relationship. But Trump can’t handle being criticized like that.”

A short White House readout of last Thursday’s call said the conversation was focused on trade and immigration.

“Both leaders discussed the migration problem in Libya, and timelines to solve it. President Trump underscored the need to rebalance trade with Europe,” the readout states.

The call came the same day the United States announced a unilateral decision to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on American allies, including Mexico, Canada, and the European Union.

In a statement issued by the Elysee Palace ahead of the call, Macron said he “regrets the US decision to confirm tariffs in steel and aluminum.”

“This decision is not only illegal, it is a mistake on many points. It is a mistake because it responds to a worldwide unbalance that exists in the worst ways through fragmentations and economic nationalism,” the statement continued, with Macron adding that “if these kind of things impacted our relations, it would have been the case since day one because he has decided to leave the Paris (climate) agreement.”

“I prefer to say things directly and not through the press; and I will tell him what I told you, which are my convictions that he knows already,” he said in the statement.

Thursday’s strained call is particularly notable because Macron is arguably the European leader to whom Trump is closest. In an interview with the BBC in January, Macron said he had a “very direct relationship” with his US counterpart.

“I’m always extremely direct and frank. He is. Sometimes I manage to convince him, and sometimes I fail,” Macron said at the time.

Trump can expect a similar call from British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday, sources tell CNN. It’s not her style to be combative, but one source said May is expected to be direct in her criticisms and that Trump could expect a tough conversation.

[CNN]

Bolton: U.S. sanctions ‘possible’ on European firms over Iran

White House National Security adviser John Bolton on Sunday said U.S. sanctions on European companies that do business with Iran were “possible, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remained hopeful Washington and its allies could strike a new nuclear deal with Tehran.

Bolton’s comments, in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union, struck a more hawkish note than Pompeo’s, who was interviewed on “Fox News Sunday.”

U.S. President Donald Trump on May 8 announced that the United States was withdrawing from a 2015 deal negotiated by the Obama administration.

So far, China, France, Russia, the U.K., EU and Iran remain in the accord, which placed controls on Iran’s nuclear program and led to a relaxation of American economic sanctions against Iran and companies doing business there.

Bolton, asked whether the United States might impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran, told CNN: “It’s possible. It depends on the conduct of other governments.”

Pompeo said he was “hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but their missiles and their malign behavior as well.”

Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran deal has upset European allies, cast uncertainty over global oil supplies and raised the risk of conflict in the Middle East.

This week, Israel and Iran engaged in an extensive military exchange on the heels of Trump’s decision to leave the deal. On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump in a telephone call that he was worried about stability in the Middle East, according to Macron’s office.

Bolton would not respond directly when asked whether Trump might seek “regime change” in Iran, or whether the U.S. military would be ordered to make a preemptive strike against any Iranian nuclear facility.

“I’m not the national security decision maker,” Bolton said, adding that Trump “makes the decision and the advice that I give him is between us.”

Bolton said Trump “has I think very clear policies, both with respect to North Korea and Iran. Those are the policies that we are pursuing.”

When pressed by CNN on whether the administration would sanction European firms, Bolton said, “I think the Europeans will see that it’s in their interest ultimately to come along with us.”

Bolton said Europe was still digesting the May 8 move by Trump.

“I think at the moment there’s some feeling in Europe – they’re really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions. I think that will sink in; we’ll see what happens then,” Bolton said.

[Reuters]

Media

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/us-sanctions-uk-europe-iran-business-trade-trump-john-bolton-a8349611.html

Trump angers France and Britain with his NRA speech

US President Donald Trump took aim at two of America’s closest allies in a speech at the NRA convention, saying strict gun laws failed to prevent the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and highlighting a purported increase in knife violence in London.

The comments provoked anger in both France and Britain.

France was especially incensed after Trump, while speaking at the gun rights convention in Dallas on Friday, pointed his hand as if it were a gun while describing how each of the victims in Paris was fatally shot.

“They took their time and gunned them down one by one — boom, come over here, boom, come over here, boom,” he said.

The French foreign ministry issued a statement Saturday after Trump’s comments.

“France expresses its firm disapproval of President Trump’s remarks … and calls for the respect of the memory of the victims,” it said.

Francois Hollande, who was the French President during the 2015 attacks, tweeted Saturday:

“Donald Trump’s shameful remarks and obscene histrionics say a lot about what he thinks of France and its values. The friendship between our two peoples will not be tainted by disrespect and excessiveness. All my thoughts go to the victims of November 13.”

Trump: Armed Parisians could have stopped attack

Trump went on to say things might have been different had Parisians in the cafes under attack had been armed.

“If one employee or just one patron had a gun, or if one person in this room had been there with a gun, aimed at the opposite direction, the terrorists would have fled or been shot. And it would have been a whole different story,” Trump said.

The Élysée palace responded to that comment by saying, “The free flow of arms within society does not constitute a shield against terrorist attacks. It can instead facilitate the planning of this type of attack.”

And the French ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, tweeted: “The statistics of the people killed by guns don’t convince France to change its guns laws.”

A group of about 10 men staged a series of coordinated attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, killing at least 130 people and wounding hundreds.

The attackers, armed with assault rifles and explosives, targeted six locations across the city. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

President says Britain has knife problem

Trump also compared an unnamed London hospital to a “war zone” in the NRA speech, saying that despite tough gun laws in the United Kingdom, it has blood all over the floors from victims of knife attacks.

“They don’t have guns. They have knives and instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital,” Trump said. “They say it’s as bad as a military war zone hospital … knives, knives, knives. London hasn’t been used to that. They’re getting used to that. It’s pretty tough.”

British officialdom did not push back. London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office declined to comment to CNN following Trump’s remarks.

But former UK Cabinet minister Charlie Falconer tweeted Saturday: “US murder rate over 5 times higher than the UK’s. There isn’t a person in the whole world (with the possible exception of the President of the US, and he’s probably lying) who believes the way to reduce our murder rate is to make it easier to get guns.”

It’s unclear what hospital Trump was referring to. But the BBC reported that a trauma surgeon at the Royal London Hospital, Dr. Martin Griffiths, recently told the network that his fellow doctors have compared it to an Afghan war zone.

Amid the furor over Trump’s comments, Griffiths tweeted Saturday: “Happy to invite Mr Trump to my (prestigious) hospital to meet with our mayor and police commissioner to discuss our successes in violence reduction in London.”

Professor Karim Brohi, a trauma surgeon at The Royal London Hospital and director of London’s Major Trauma System, also hit back at Trump’s speech, saying in a statement that, “The Royal London Hospital has cut the number of our young patients returning after further knife attacks from 45% to 1%.”

Brohi said that while there is more that can be done to combat knife attacks, gunshot wounds are “at least twice as lethal as knife injuries and more difficult to repair.”

Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke by phone Saturday. According to the White House, they discussed China trade, North Korea, Iran and Trump’s upcoming visit to Britain. It’s unknown whether they talked about Trump’s remarks to the NRA.

[CNN]

White House blames ‘typo’ for major claim on Iran’s nuclear program

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday blamed a “typo” for a controversial statement issued late Monday that initially said Iran currently “has” a secret nuclear program — a conclusion that would have major implications for the Iran nuclear deal.

In the statement issued under Sanders’ name, the Trump administration originally wrote that “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people,” a position that conflicted with international monitors who have found Iran to be in compliance with the landmark nuclear deal it signed with other nations, including the U.S., in 2015.

The statement was later amended online to switch to the past tense, that “Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program.” On the White House website, the statement is published without a correction or other acknowledgment of the error, and a corrected email was not sent to reporters.

“We think the biggest mistake that was made was under the Obama administration by ever entering the deal that you referenced in the first place,” Sanders told reporters on Tuesday. “The typo that you referenced was noticed, immediately corrected and we are focused on moving forward on the safety and security of our country.”

The White House statement came in response to a Monday presentation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an outspoken critic of the Iran nuclear deal, lambasting the agreement and accusing the Iranian government of deceiving the international community on the subject of its nuclear program.

Netanyahu’s presentation was met with skepticism by many who argued that it contained little new information, and Sanders, in her Monday statement, said “the United States is aware of the information just released by Israel and continues to examine it carefully.”

Despite having to defend the White House’s edited statement, Sanders still went on the offensive at Tuesday’s briefing, slamming the Iran deal that the president has often threatened to withdraw the U.S. from.

“The problem is that the deal was made on a completely false pretense. Iran lied on the front end. They were dishonest actors and so the deal that was made was made on things that weren’t accurate and we have a big problem with that,” she said.

[Politico]

President Trump threatens political repercussions over 2026 World Cup bid

President Donald Trump waded into the campaign aimed at bringing the 2026 FIFA World Cup to the United States on Thursday, tweeting out a veiled threat to withdraw political support from nations who vote against the bid.

In a wildly surprising development, Trump, who previously has shown little appetite for soccer, appeared to throw his full backing behind the three-pronged bid that would see the U.S., Mexico and Canada potentially act as co-hosts of soccer’s biggest tournament.

“The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup,” Trump wrote. “It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?”

The business mogul turned politician did not specify which countries he was referring to, but the only other contender in the race to be host is Morocco. Due to the political nature of FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, and the tactical nature of voting in such matters, it is widely expected that Morocco will have the support of virtually the entire African continent.

Other voting blocks, including those from Europe and Asia, still are seen as very much up for grabs, with the vote due to be finalized June 13, just before the start of this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

“From the beginning, we have received strong support from the Canadian, Mexican and United States governments,” a statement from the bid committee read, in response to Trump’s remarks. “We are grateful for that support and together our three countries are ready to welcome players and fans from around the world to an extraordinary FIFA World Cup in 2026.”

[USA Today]

Reality

FIFA pointed to its rules governing the selection of the 2026 World Cup hosts on Friday, one day after U.S. President Donald Trump questioned supporting countries that lobby against a joint North American bid.

The governing body’s code of ethics prohibits government interference in all member countries’ respective national soccer federations, and the bidding regulations also warn against “any undue influence on the outcome.”

Trump Commands Latvian President to Call on ‘Real News, Not Fake News’ Reporter in Stunning Presser

During his press conference with fellow world leaders from the Baltics, President Donald Trump asked the president of Latvia to take questions from the international press corps because the American media is all “fake news.”

Latvia’s Raimonds Vejonis stood with Trump today as they and their counterparts from Estonia and Lithuania took questions from the room. At one point, Trump pointed at Vejonis and beckoned him to choose the next reporter to speak.

“A Baltic reporter ideally,” Trump said. “Real news, not fake news.”

Vejonis grinned as a tangible awkwardness took hold, though Trump kept calling on him to pick a reporter. Trump warned him however to not pick the same journalist who asked the last question because he “was very tough.”

[Mediaite]

Media

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