Updated Dec 3, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump says Macron's NATO "brain death" comments are "very insulting"

In a bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in London on Tuesday, President Trump shot back at Emmanuel Macron for his recent criticism of the alliance, calling the French president's comments "very insulting" and "nasty."

"NATO serves a great purpose. It got to be unfair for the United States because the United States was paying a disproportionate amount. And I hear that President Macron said NATO is "brain dead." I think that's very insulting to a lot of different forces. ... When you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement to 28 — including them — 28 countries. You have a real high unemployment rate in France. France is not doing well economically at all."

Why it matters: Trump himself has called the trans-Atlantic alliance "obsolete" and frequently attacks other member states for failing to pay their fair share. The comments underscore the president's recent frustrations with Macron, who said in an interview that NATO is suffering "brain death" now that America's commitment has come into question under Trump.

  • On Monday night, as Trump landed in London, the U.S. Trade Representative announced that it is considering implementing tariffs of up to 100% on 2.4% billion worth of French goods in response to France's digital tax.

The big picture: Trump touched on a wide array of subjects during his 52-minute press spray with Stoltenberg, where he began a tense NATO summit at the same time that the House Judiciary Committee was preparing to hold its first impeachment hearing on Wednesday, more than 3,000 miles away.

  • On the U.K. election: Trump declined to wade into the U.K.'s high-stakes election, which is in just nine days and will see one of his closest allies Boris Johnson take on the left-wing Jeremy Corbyn to determine the future of Brexit. On allegations that the U.S. would want access to Britain's beloved National Health Service in a future trade deal, Trump said he has "nothing to do with it" and "wouldn't want to."
  • On proposed tariffs on France: Trump said he was no fan of big tech companies like Facebook and Google that will be hit by France's digital tax, but argued: "I'm not going to let people take advantage of American companies because if anyone is going to take advantage of the American companies it is going to be us, it's not going to be France."
  • On impeachment: "I think it's very unpatriotic of the Democrats to put on a performance ... Now they want to go to censure because they have no case for impeachment. They want to go to censure. I don't mind being censured if you do something wrong. I did nothing wrong."
  • On North Korea: Trump claimed that South Korea has agreed to pay "approximately $500 million a year more for protection," which he said is "fair" considering what the U.S. does for the country. He claimed there would be war in Asia if he weren't president and denied that Kim Jong-un is continuing to build his nuclear program, telling a reporter: "You don't know that."
  • On the China trade war: Fears are growing that a trade deal will not be struck by the end of the year, especially in the wake of pro-Hong Kong legislation passed by Congress. Trump said he has "no deadline" and that he may want to wait until after the 2020 election, telling reporters: "The China trade deal is dependent on one thing: Do I want to make it? Because we're doing very well with China right now, and we can do even better with the flick of a pen."

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