Trump On Trade Wars With China, U.S. Allies: ‘We’ve Been the Stupid Country for So Many Years’

During his broad-ranging interview with 60 Minutes, President Trump said America has been a “stupid country” in the past, while also defending his approach to international economics and foreign policy.

Lesley Stahl pressed Trump on his escalating trade wars with China and their retaliation across multiple markets. Trump disputed her “trade war” characterization and that eventually led to a chat on the Trump Administration’s tariffs against American allies.

“I mean, what’s an ally?” Trump said. “We have wonderful relationships with a lot of people. But nobody treats us much worse than the European Union.”

Stahl continued to ask about this “hostile” approach, and whether Trump would consider dissolving the western alliance under NATO.

“We’ve been the stupid country for so many years,” Trump said. “We shouldn’t be paying almost the entire cost of NATO to protect Europe, and then on top of that, they take advantage of us on trade.”

[Mediaite]

Trump: I told Saudi king he wouldn’t last without U.S. support

President Donald Trump made an undiplomatic remark about close ally Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, saying he warned Saudi Arabia’s King Salman he would not last in power “for two weeks” without the backing of the U.S. military.

“We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they’re rich. And I love the King, King Salman. But I said ‘King – we’re protecting you – you might not be there for two weeks without us – you have to pay for your military,'” Trump said to cheers at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi.

Trump did not say when he made those remarks to the Saudi monarch.

Despite the harsh words, the Trump administration has had a close relationship with Saudi Arabia, which it views as a bulwark against Iran’s ambitions in the region.

Trump made Saudi Arabia his first stop on his maiden international trip as president last year.

Trump called King Salman on Saturday and they discussed efforts being made to maintain supplies to ensure oil market stability and global economic growth, according to Saudi state news agency SPA.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter and the de facto leader of OPEC, which has been criticized by Trump for high oil prices.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month, Trump said OPEC members were “as usual ripping off the rest of the world.”

“We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices, we want them to start lowering prices,” Trump said.

[Reuters]

Trump ‘went off’ on French president during face-to-face meeting

US President Donald Trump was “ranting and venting on trade” to French President Emmanuel Macron during their bilateral meeting Monday evening, according to a senior diplomatic source.

Trump lambasted the European Union for its trade policies, saying it was worse than China — a complaint that the US president made to his French counterpart in an April meeting at the White House.

The source described Trump as “going off” on EU trade during his meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Trump said that the EU had to open up on agriculture — a continued point of contention in trade negotiations between the two entities. Macron was respectful to Trump and pushed back some on the topic but moved the conversation forward, the source said.

There was “some rapport” between the two, “but it’s not what it (once) was,” the source said.

Trump and Macron also talked about Iran and North Korea, during which Trump expressed his views in what the source described as “very predictable terms.”

The next day, Macron delivered a pointed rebuke to Trump in his speech at the UN General Assembly, both directly and implicitly criticizing the administration for its policies on Iran, climate change, the UN, migration and Mideast peace.

Macron began by telling the assembly that the world order based on sovereignty and equality among nations that came into being in the 1600s was facing a “far-reaching crisis,” and said the answer lay in cooperation and collaboration among nations.

“Nationalism always leads to defeat,” said Macron, who couched his remarks in the historical context of Europe’s world wars. “If courage is lacking in the defense of fundamental principles, international order becomes fragile and this can lead as we have already seen twice, to global war. We saw that with our very own eyes.”

On trade, Macron declared, “bilateral agreements, new protectionisms, will not work.”

The French President has made no secret of his disagreements with the US President. In April, during Macron’s first state visit as president to the US, he contradicted Trump on several fronts in a speech before Congress.

“There is no planet B,” Macron told lawmakers, referring to Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

Macron’s visit to the White House in April also included efforts to persuade Trump to save the Iran deal, which the US President ultimately announced his intention to withdraw from in May.

Before the cracks started to appear in their relationship, Macron had been dubbed by some observers as the “Trump whisperer,” after the two appeared to form a close bond during Trump’s visit to Paris last year.

[CNN]

Trump Didn’t Have A Meeting Scheduled With Trudeau — But He Canceled It Anyway

President Donald Trump claimed he snubbed a meeting request from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the United Nations this week. “I’ve told him forget about it,” Trump remarked Wednesday during a news conference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Canada, however, was quick to cry foul. No such meeting was ever requested, a Trudeau spokesman told CNN, adding: “We do not have any comment beyond that.”

The back and forth about the supposed meeting comes amid the U.S. and Canada’s acrimonious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, and follows months of souring relations between the two North American neighbors.

Speaking at the news conference, Trump alleged he refused a “one-on-one meeting” with Trudeau because of Canada’s high dairy tariffs and poor “negotiating style.” He also took a shot at Canada’s “representative” in the NAFTA negotiations, an apparent reference to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who has been leading Canada’s negotiations with the U.S.

Trudeau’s “tariffs are too high, and he doesn’t seem to want to move, and I’ve told him forget about it, and frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada,” Trump said. “That’s the mother lode. That’s the big one.”

He added: “We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much.”

Trudeau and Trump were captured on camera briefly shaking hands on Tuesday during a luncheon for world leaders.

Trudeau, who was standing, tapped Trump’s shoulder to greet him. The U.S. president stayed seated as he extended his hand for a cursory handshake. Trump’s decision to stay seated during the exchange has been described as a snub and as showing a lack of diplomatic etiquette.

Trump and Trudeau share a rocky history. In June, after the G7 summit, Trudeau told reporters that Canada would retaliate with tariffs of its own following the imposition of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.

In response, Trump lambasted the prime minister on Twitter as being “very dishonest & weak.”

The U.S. has suggested it will forge a new NAFTA deal with just Mexico if it fails to reach an accord with its northern neighbor.

NAFTA, a trilateral trade pact comprising the U.S., Canada and Mexico, has been in force since 1994.

[Huffington Post]

John Bolton Threatens Sanctions for ‘Illegitimate’ International Criminal Court: ‘Already Dead to Us’

National Security Advisor John Bolton delivered his expected condemnation of the International Criminal Court on Monday, vowing to bring sanctions against the organization if it continues to investigate American activity in the Middle East.

As Bolton spoke before the Federalist Society, he promised retaliation for the ICC’s “unjust prosecution” of alleged war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He called the organization a threat to American national security, saying it “claims authority separate from, and above, the Constitution of the United States. It is antithetical to our nation’s ideals.”

“We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC,” said Bolton. “We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

The speech continued with Bolton describing the ICC as an “illegitimate” investigative body that failed to adequately prosecute illegal activity abroad despite its “dangerous” levels of unchecked accountability. He said the U.S. will ban the ICC’s court judges from the country and enforce sanctions against any nation cooperating with them if they continue to prosecute America or its allies.

“We will take the following steps, among others, in accordance with the American Service-Members’ Protection Act and our other legal authorities. We will negotiate even more binding bilateral agreements to prohibit nations from surrendering U.S. persons to the ICC,” said Bolton. “We will do the same for any company or state that assists in ICC investigation of Americans. We will take note if any countries cooperate with ICC investigations of the U.S. and its allies, and we will remember that cooperation.”

[Mediaite]

Trump threatens to pull out of WTO ‘if they don’t shape up’

President Trump on Thursday threatened to pull the U.S. out of the World Trade Organization (WTO) “if they don’t shape up,” a stance he has reportedly discussed in private but has denied publicly.

“If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO,” the president told Bloomberg News in an interview.

Trump has long criticized the international body, saying in late June that the U.S. has been “treated very badly” by the group, describing it as an “unfair situation.”

At the time, the president insisted he was not considering pulling out of the WTO despite his frustrations, though Axios reported he had discussed with advisers his intentions to exit.

Leaving the WTO would upend the decades-old international trade system, which the U.S. helped establish, and roil markets around the globe.

The U.S. on Monday told the WTO that it plans to block the reappointment of one of the its four remaining judges, a move that would significantly hinder the organization’s ability to function.

If the U.S. successfully blocks the appointment of Judge Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing, the WTO would only have three judges, the bare minimum to continue operations.

Two of the WTO judges’ terms expire in December of next year.

Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently agreed to work towards a trade agreement that would involve reforming the WTO.

Multiple nations have filed complaints about Trump’s escalating tariffs with the WTO, including China. Trump is reportedly planning to impose $200 billion tariffs on Chinese imports as soon as next week, on top of the billions of dollars of tariffs he has already implemented.

[The Hill]

Trump: ‘No reason’ for Korea war games right now

President Trump on Wednesday said there was “no reason” for joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises at the moment, citing ongoing discussions over North Korea’s nuclear program.

“The President believes that his relationship with Kim Jong Un is a very good and warm one, and there is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games,” the White House said in a statement that Trump himself issued on Twitter.

“Besides, the President can instantly start the joint exercises again with South Korea, and Japan, if he so chooses,” the statement added.

The Trump administration statement came one day after Defense Secretary James Mattis said there were no plans to suspend future military exercisesbetween the U.S. and South Korea.

Mattis later clarified, however, that there has been “no decision” about suspending more exercises following the three that were cancelled after Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earlier this year.

“Our military posture has not changed since the conclusion of the Singapore summit and no decisions have been made about suspending any future exercises,” Mattis said in a statement Wednesday.

Following the summit between Trump and Kim in June, the Pentagon said it would indefinitely suspend the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise and two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises with South Korea as part of diplomatic negotiations with the North.

The Trump administration has been engaged with North Korea for several months in an effort to scale back Pyongyang’s nuclear program, but those efforts have appeared to hit a roadblock in recent weeks.

Trump last week abruptly cancelled a planned trip for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to travel to Pyongyang to continue negotiations. The Washington Post reported that Trump nixed the trip after a North Korean official signaled in a letter that the meeting would not be successful.

On Wednesday, the White House argued that China was partially to blame for the stalled efforts, accusing Beijing of applying “tremendous pressure” to North Korea because of the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

“At the same time, we also know that China is providing North Korea with considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities,” the White House said. “This is not helpful!”

However, the White House added that the trade disputes with China will be “resolved” and described Trump’s relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping as “very strong.”

[The Hill]

Reality

Reminder: It was Vladimir Putin who suggested to Trump we cancel these military exercises.

Trump reportedly caught the Japanese prime minister off guard during a meeting at the White House by saying ‘I remember Pearl Harbor’

President Donald Trump reportedly caught Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe off guard with a comment about Pearl Harbor during a meeting at the White House in June, according to the Washington Post.

Trump reportedly said “I remember Pearl Harbor” to Abe in what was described as a “tense” meeting, referring to the attack by Japan on the United States that led to the US entering World War II.

Multiple diplomats spoke to the Post anonymously to describe the president’s increasingly fraught relationship with Abe, as Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum hit Japan’s economy and his policies on North Korea differ from Abe’s desired approach.

Trump reportedly ignored advice from Abe on negotiating with North Korea before meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore this past June, according to the report.

A diplomat could not explain the meaning of Trump’s comment about Pearl Harbor, but told the Post Trump appreciates historical references and mentions Japan’s “samurai past”.

Trump and Abe have had a largely positive relationship, often bonding on the golf course. Abe has even stayed at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida during one of their many meetings.

The two have met eight times since Trump took office, which is more than any other world leader. And they’ve spoken on the phone 26 times, according to the Post.

Calling him his “good friend”, Trump sees Abe as a respected counterpart and a good negotiator, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Abe has lauded Trump’s leadership as “outstanding” and “remarkable”, and has not retaliated against Trump’s tariffs. Abe even gave Trump a gold-plated golf club worth $3,800, according to the Post.

https://www.businessinsider.com/i-remember-pearl-harbor-trump-told-japan-pm-shinzo-abe-report-2018-8

Aides regularly tell Trump not to call foreign leaders at odd hours due to time zones

White House aides must regularly tell President Trump not to call foreign leaders at odd hours due to time zone differences, according to a new Politico report about Trump’s multiple “diplomatic faux-pas.”

Sources close to Trump told Politico the president often proposes phone calls with world leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at times when they would likely be asleep.

“When he wants to call someone, he wants to call someone,” one source told Politico. “He’s more impulsive that way. He doesn’t think about what time it is or who it is.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Politico that “foreign leaders appreciate that the president is willing to take their calls day and night.”

“The president has made clear that when leaders reach out for calls, [aides should] set them up right away,” Sanders said. “He has had foreign leaders calls very late at night and never wants another leader to wait before their call is returned.”

Former National Security Council staffers and White House sources told Politico that the president’s foreign affairs knowledge is lacking. At one meeting, Trump allegedly mispronounced Nepal as “nipple” and Bhutan as “button,” two sources  told Politico.

A White House official denied that element of the report, saying others who attended the meeting did not remember the president saying that.

One former National Security Council official told Politico that the president avoids saying certain words and names for fear he will mispronounce them when speaking to other world leaders.

[The Hill]

Trump Reacts to Iran Snubbing His Offer to Meet: ‘It Doesn’t Matter – It is Up to Them’

On his way to a rally in Ohio on Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted about Iran.

“Iran, and it’s economy, is going very bad, and fast!” Trump wrote. “I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter – it is up to them!”

Trump’s tweet appeared to be in response to the news from earlier this week that Iran had rejected an offer to meet with Trump.

In addition, according to the Fox News report — which just so happened to air a segment on the topic shortly before Trump tweeted — Iranian officials snubbed an offer from Trump who “this week said he would sit down with the country’s leader without any preconditions.”

The report also featured National Review columnist John Fundinsisting Trump’s offer to meet with Iranian’s leader amounted to “shadowboxing” and was not actually going to happen anyhow.

“So Donald Trump is trying for a third [meeting] with the deplorables of the nations of the world,” Fund said. “He knows the Iranians are not going to meet because they have no incentive to meet…This is shadowboxing.”

The chyron underneath Fund also reinforced Iran’s snub, reading: “Iran rejects President Trump’s offer to meet without any pre-conditions.”

[Mediaite]

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