Trump’s private NATO trashing rattles allies

You’ve already read a hundred stories about President Trump’s clashes with some of America’s closest allies at the G7 summit in Canada. But we’ve got new details from his private conversations with heads of state that have put some of these leaders on edge leading into next month’s NATO summit.

What we’re hearing: In one extraordinary riff during his meeting with the G7 heads of state earlier this month in Quebec, Trump told the other leaders: “NATO is as bad as NAFTA.” An official read this quote to me from notes transcribed from the private meeting.

Behind the scenes: Trump made the comment after telling the G7 leaders that Crimea probably should belong to Russia because everyone there speaks Russian, the source added. Trump then went on his usual riff about Germany not paying its fair share of defense spending, said the Europeans weren’t paying enough and that the U.S. is being ripped off.

  • Then Trump said of the NATO Summit on July 11-12 in Brussels: “It will be an interesting summit. NATO is as bad as NAFTA. It’s much too costly for the U.S.”

Why this matters: NATO member states are worried about Russian aggression and they want an unambiguous sign that America has their back. By linking NATO to NAFTA — a trade deal that Trump considers an unmitigated disaster for America — Trump reinforced some of the Europeans’ worst fears that he’ll take a purely transactional approach to next month’s summit.

  • Officials from four NATO member countries have told me they’re worried Trump undercut the shared values and commitments of the NATO alliance by spending most of his time bashing NATO members for not “paying enough” and meeting their defense spending commitments.
  • Trump is broadly correct about the defense spending. Many NATO members have been shirking their responsibilities and are nowhere near their promise to spend 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product on defense.
  • But, as one senior European official put it to me: Trump could do a victory lap of sorts at next month’s summit, instead of bashing NATO members (which would please Putin.)
  • Trump, the official said, could point out that NATO members have been increasing their defense spending, and say that it’s only because of his pressure. The official said he hoped — but wasn’t confident — Trump would take this gentler, more diplomatic route.

When Axios shared this reporting with the White House, officials did not attempt to deny these specific comments that were relayed from notes from the G7 heads of state meeting. But NSC spokesman Garrett Marquis said: “The president engaged in a constructive dialogue with his counterparts at G7. Any allegations otherwise are simply wrong.”

1 fun thing: In the same meeting, Trump cracked to the leaders about what was then his upcoming Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un. “It’s like baseball,” Trump told the G7 leaders, according to the source reading from the meeting notes. “You never know if you are going to hit the ball.”

[Axios]

Trump reportedly tossed a Starburst toward Merkel during G7 summit

President Trump reportedly tossed a Starburst toward German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the G7 summit in Canada.

The candy diplomacy took place during a tense exchange that was caught in a memorable image of Trump with arms folded while surrounded by European allies, according to CBS News.

“Trump was sitting there with his arms crossed, clearly not liking the fact that they were ganging up on him,” Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer said on “CBS This Morning.”

“He eventually agreed and said OK, he’ll sign it. And at that point, he stood up, put his hand in his pocket, his suit jacket pocket, and he took two Starburst candies out, threw them on the table and said to Merkel, ‘Here, Angela. Don’t say I never give you anything.’”

The Starburst outburst took place just before Trump boarded a plane to Singapore and proceeded to berate allies, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

[New York Post]

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 threatened to send 25 million Mexicans to Japan

Donald Trump threatened Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he would ship 25 million Mexicans to his country, one of a series of bizarre missives that jarred fellow leaders at last week’s acrimonious G7 meet, according to a report on Friday.

The Group of Seven summit gathering of top industrialized democracies finished in disarray after the US president abruptly rejected its consensus statement and bitterly attacked Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Behind the scenes, Trump’s counterparts were dismayed by verbal jabs on topics ranging from trade to terrorism and migration, The Wall Street Journal said, quoting European officials who were present.

At one point he described migration as a big problem for Europe then said to Abe: “Shinzo, you don’t have this problem, but I can send you 25 million Mexicans and you’ll be out of office very soon,” creating a sense of irritation in the room, according to an EU official.

The source added that when the topic turned to Iran and terrorism, Trump took aim at French President Emmanuel Macron, saying: “You must know about this, Emmanuel, because all the terrorists are in Paris.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also came under fire and was repeatedly described by Trump as a “brutal killer” in reference to the bloc’s antitrust and tax fines against US tech companies that have run into billions of dollars.

Bitter differences over trade dominated the summit hosted by Canada, with leaders of the world’s largest economies lining up against Trump’s threats to impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

After rejecting the joint statement, Trump and his top aides assailed Trudeau, accusing him of dishonesty and betrayal.

Trump on Friday rejected reports of discord, blaming the “Fake News Media” on Twitter for portraying a false picture while posting several photos of himself appearing to get along well with fellow G7 leaders.

[Yahoo]

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 told Macron EU worse than China on trade

President Donald Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron that the European Union is worse than China on trade during a conversation that portended the tense end to this year’s G7 summit.

In a meeting at the White House during the French president’s visit to Washington in April, Macron suggested the United States and France should work together to resolve shared trade problems with Beijing, prompting Trump to make his remark, a person in the room told CNN.

Trump told Macron during their meeting in Washington that there are too many German cars in the United States, the source previously told CNN. The source did not say Trump explicitly said he wanted all German-made cars out of the US. Trump focused his conversation with Macron on German trade for about 15 minutes in the one-hour meeting.

Trump has been on a tear about German trade and cars in particular, bringing up the issues with other European leaders with whom he has met over the last few months, the source said.

The details of the conversation, which Axios previously reported, come amid fears of a looming trade war over the Trump administration’s move to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. Those tensions boiled over during the G7 summit in Canada on Saturday, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European leaders reaffirming plans to institute retaliatory measures and Trump lashing out in response byrefusing to endorse the group of industrialized nations’ communique.

That, in turn, prompted harsh reactions from European officials and members of Congress, including Republican Sen. John McCain, who said Americans would continue to stand with the nation’s historical allies.

“To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values,” the Arizona senator tweeted. “Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

Senior Trump aides escalated the rhetoric on Sunday morning’s news shows, with chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow calling Trudeau’s remarks “a betrayal” on CNN’s “State of the Union” and top trade adviser Peter Navarro saying on “Fox News Sunday” that “there’s a special place in hell” for the Canadian leader.

Trump, who is in Singapore for negotiations with North Korea, continued to rip into US trading partners late Sunday night Eastern Time, repeating complaints about the US trade deficit and contributions to NATO.

“Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal,” Trump wrote in a series of postson Twitter. “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!”

“Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers & Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?” the President continued. “Not fair to the PEOPLE of America! $800 Billion Trade Deficit … And add to that the fact that 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!). The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!”

[CNN]

Kudlow: Trudeau ‘stabbed us in the back’

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow repeatedly accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “betrayal” and saying he “stabbed us in the back” for standing up to President Donald Trump after the G-7 meeting.

Speaking hours after Trump ordered the U.S. not to endorse the G-7 communique, Kudlow slammed Trudeau for a “sophomoric play” in holding a press conference after the G-7 meetings and saying Canadians “will not be pushed around.” Soon afterward, Trump tweeted that the U.S. would not participate in the G-7 communique agreed to earlier on Saturday.

“He really kind of stabbed us in the back,” said Kudlow, the White House National Economic Council director, speaking on CNN‘s “State of the Union.“

Kudlow, who said he was in the bilateral meeting with Trudeau and Trump, said the two leaders “were getting along famously.”

“We were very close to making a deal with Canada on NAFTA, bilaterally perhaps, and then we leave and Trudeau pulls this sophomoric, political stunt for domestic consumption.”

Kudlow told Jake Tapper he likes Trudeau personally, but that the Canadian leader was trying to score political points in attacking Trump.

“Trudeau made an error. He should take it back. He should pull back on his statements,” Kudlow said.

[Politico]

Reality

Trump left the G-7 and did a news conference bashing Canada on trade. Then Trudeau did a news conference in which he said the same things about the steel/aluminum tariffs he’s been saying for a week.

They were not close to making a bilateral NAFTA deal. He’s just making things up.

Ah, Kudlow finally explains what’s going on here: “Now, POTUS is not gonna let a Canadian prime minister push him around, push him, POTUS, around, President Trump, on the eve of this — he is not going to permit any show of weakness on a trip to negotiate with North Korea.”

So…per the White House, Trump is insulting the prime minister of Canada because he wants to impress Kim Jong Un.

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 snapped at CNN reporter for asking about G7 tensions: ‘Fake news CNN — the worst’

Donald Trump snarled at a CNN reporter on Saturday morning for asking a question about tensions between the president and other leaders attending the G7 conference, accusing the reporter of “fake news.”

With the unidentified reporter noting there were reports that Trump and other world leaders attending the summit were at odds — and that Trump was leaving the conference early for a friendlier get-together with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un — the president pulled up short before answering.

“As you were heading into these G7 talks there was a sense that America’s closest allies were frustrated and angry with you and you were angry with them and you were leaving here to go meet early for talks in Singapore. I’m wondering if you view it the same way?’ Trump was asked

“Who are you with out of curiosity?” Trumps demanded, only to be told “CNN.”

“I figured, fake news, CNN, the worst,” Trump snapped back. “I had no idea you were with CNN, after the question I knew you were with CNN.”

After giving a rambling answer, Trump too another jab at the cable news network, before moving on to another reporter.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump Holds Solo News Conference, Defends Bashing Press

President Donald Trump stepped to the microphone alone Saturday to take reporters’ questions, just the second time he’d done so since taking office more than a year ago.

He talked about his desire for countries to remove all barriers to the free flow of goods. He looked ahead to the next big meeting on his schedule — a summit in Singapore next week with North Korea’s leader. Along the way, Trump bashed the U.S. press and defended why he does it.

“I’d like to ask you why you do that?” said a White House reporter from the news agency Agence France-Presse.

Trump, who is obsessed with his media coverage and has labeled the press “the enemy of the people,” defended the steady stream of attacks.

“Because the U.S. press is very dishonest. Much of it, not all of it,” Trump said. “Oh, I have some folks in your profession that are with the U.S., in the U.S., citizens, proud citizens; they’re reporters. These are some of the most outstanding people I know. But there are many people in the press that are unbelievably dishonest. They don’t cover stories the way they’re supposed to be. They don’t even report them in many cases if they’re positive. So there’s tremendous — you know, I came up with the term ‘fake news.’

“It’s a lot of ‘fake news,’ but at the same time I have great respect for many of the people in the press,” he said.

During an earlier point in the news conference, Trump referred to a CNN producer’s “fake friends at CNN.”

Unlike with a more formal news conference, typically announced days in advance, the White House gave journalists traveling with Trump little warning that he was coming to their workspace to make a statement and answer questions before leaving the Group of Seven summit in Quebec to fly to Singapore.

He answered questions from just the small group, or “pool,” of reporters who travel with him, not the much larger universe of reporters who cover the White House on a daily basis and would attend a less hastily arranged question-and-answer session.

Trump seems more fond of sparring with reporters when he can share the stage with a foreign counterpart, as he did this past week at the White House after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had stopped in Washington to consult with Trump before the G-7 and the upcoming Kim summit.

The president has also been more open to answering questions during brief appearances at the White House, such as at bill-signing ceremonies or meetings with lawmakers, or on the South Lawn when he leaves or returns from an out-of-town trip.

Trump last appeared solo before reporters in February 2017, less than a month into his presidency. It was a rollicking, quickly arranged, 77-minute free-for-all in the stately East Room of the White House during which he railed against the news media, defended his fired national security adviser and insisted that no one who advised his campaign had had any contacts with Russia.

[The New York Times]

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