President Donald Trump launched an outspoken attack on French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of their meeting later Tuesday in London, calling his recent comments on the alliance “very nasty” and “insulting.”
But Trump also railed against the alliance, complaining that the US pays “a disproportionate amount,” and that the US is the country that benefits least from NATO membership.
Trump’s remarks highlighted the widening fissures within NATO as leaders gather in the British capital to celebrate the alliance’s 70th anniversary. Last month, Macron said it is suffering from “brain death” because of US indifference. He cited the fact NATO was not informed of members recent actions in northern Syria, pointing to the US’ sudden exit from the area and Turkey’s incursion into the area with Russia’s help.
“When France makes a statement like they did about NATO, it’s a very dangerous statement to make,” Trump said Tuesday morning as he made remarks and took questions ahead of a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“I do see France breaking off (from NATO). I’m looking at him and I’m saying he needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off, so I’m a little surprised at that,” Trump added.
Trump’s comments criticizing Macron follow a Monday evening announcement in which US trade officials proposed tariffs of roughly $2.4 billion on French goods. The tariffs would be in retaliation against France’s tax on digital services, which US officials said will become a trade barrier for American tech companies such as Facebook and Google.
Despite expressing his frustrations over Macron’s comments and making the tariff threats, Trump maintained that he’s “always had a good relationship with Emmanuel.”
“Sometimes he’ll say things that he shouldn’t say and I disagree with some of his policies with respect to France, but he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do and sometimes I think he does things that are counterproductive for his own country,” he added.