Donald Trump attacks French leader Emmanuel Macron over NATO comments
President Trump scolded French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday for suggesting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is brain dead, deeming it a “nasty, nasty statement” to dozens of countries.
“I think that’s very insulting. I was very surprised,” Mr. Trump said during a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
“Nobody needs NATO more than France, if you just look back over the last long period of time,” he added. “Nobody needs NATO more than France and frankly the one that benefits really the least is the United States. We benefit the least. We’re helping Europe.”
The U.S. president and Mr. Macron are ruffling feathers by criticizing aspects of the alliance — Mr. Trump wants greater defense spending, while Mr. Macron’s statement has been alternately viewed as foolish or a wake-up call.
The U.S. and France are in the middle of a trade spat, too, with Mr. Trump signaling he will tariff French products over a digital tax that adversely impacts American tech companies.
Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet with Mr. Macron later Tuesday, though he’s already letting him have it.
“When you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement to essentially, including them, 28 countries,” Mr. Trump said. “You have a very high unemployment rate in France. France is not doing well economically at all. They’re starting to tax other people’s products, so therefore we go and tax them, which is taking place right now on technology and we’re doing their wines and everything else.”
The president is visiting London while Capitol Hill lawmakers at home consider the next phase of impeachment proceedings against him.
Mr. Trump said the process is a “bad thing for our country” and he did nothing wrong in dealing with Ukraine. House Democrats say there is ample evidence that he withheld a White House visit and military aid in pursuit of political favors from Kyiv.
Mr. Trump said a lesser punishment of censure is out of the question.
“I did nothing wrong,” he said. “You don’t censure somebody when they did nothing wrong.”
The president received a warmer reception overseas from Mr. Stoltenberg, who said the administration’s push to get countries to spend more on defense is having “a real impact.”
Mr. Trump returned the praise.
“I think he is doing a fantastic job, I am a big fan,” he said. “We have increased the numbers the other countries are paying by $130 billion.”
The president also weighed in on other parts of the globe, saying people in Iran should not be killed just for protesting and that he has no strict deadline in reaching a trade deal with China.
“In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal,” Mr. Trump said.
He also said he maintains confidence in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un despite his repeated missile tests, arguing he’s been able to keep a relative lid on the strongman and prevent a shooting war.
“I like him, he likes me, we have a good relationship. We’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. “He definitely likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him Rocket Man. But we have a very good relationship and we’ll see what happens.”
Mr. Trump said he will try, however, to stay out of the U.K.’s upcoming elections.
The president will be meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his London stay.
“I think Boris is very capable and I think he’ll do a good job,” Mr. Trump said.
“I’ll stay out of the election,” he added. “You know that I was a fan of Brexit. I called it the day before.”