He called her decision to allow more than a million refugees into Germany “insane”. It is not a wonder why the German reporter asked her questions.
But some clues should be forthcoming on Friday when German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Western Europe’s longest-serving leader and unquestionably its strongest, visits the White House.
She said BMW’s plant in the USA exported “more cars than GM and Ford together” from the United States, adding: “I’ll make that clear”.
Mr Trump set the tone for his relations with the German chancellor during his campaign a year ago, saying her decision to allow refugees into Germany was a “catastrophic mistake” and suggested she was “ruining Germany”.
Merkel acknowledged the opposing positions adopted by Germany, which has taken in large numbers of refugees, and the United States under Trump, which has sought to ban them from several of the hardest-hit Muslim countries.
That appeared to be far from the case on Friday, when the veteran German leader arrived hoping to reverse a chill in relations after Trump criticized her during his campaign past year, saying her decision to allow refugees into Germany was a “catastrophic mistake” and suggesting she was “ruining Germany”. Both leaders described their meeting as having been good.
At the same press conference Friday, Trump also was asked about claims originally made by a Fox News analyst regarding British intelligence services. Trade, NATO, relationship with Russian Federation, but questions about refugees and Muslim nations and so on, I think she will just live that on the backbone. A Trump adviser recently accused Germany of depressing the euro to gain a trade advantage.
Trump will hold a joint news conference Friday at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Mark Garrison: So Trump and his team have attacked Germany over its massive trade surplus with America, attacked the tax system in Europe, and accused Germany of using the European Union and the weak currency to get its way.
The call was ostensibly tied to the G-20 leaders summit in Hamburg this July, when Merkel is anxious to get all nations – including the United States – to reaffirm their commitments to free trade. She embarked on her trans-Atlantic trip with some notable companions: top executives at BMW, Siemens and the industrial parts manufacturer Schaeffler.
The obvious exception was Trump’s joking comparison of Merkel’s surveillance experience, which was real, with his, for which no evidence is known to exist. Their aides have met.
The stakes for this meeting. and for this relationship even more so, are very high.
During a photo op in the Oval Office, the two did not shake hands before reporters. The president was slightly smiling when he said what he’s got in common with Merkel.
After the conference, Fox’s Shepard Smith said, “Fox News can not confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary”, apparently referring to the report Trump cited.
Trump has also anxious USA allies by criticizing the military alliance as “obsolete” and failing to meet the challenge posed by Islamic terror groups.
The remarks come days after a federal court again struck down his executive order temporarily suspending the US refugee program and barring people from a handful of Muslim-majority countries. “She’s going to try to set him straight”.
A meeting of the minds on Merkel’s other big priority – European security – is likely to be more challenging.
On Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer had suggested that Barack Obama ordered British spies to wiretap Donald Trump’s phone, during the final month of the 2016 campaign.
“The affinity of the president and some in his inner circle for nationalist and populist movements in Europe raises concern among Germans that the United States could support the unraveling of Europe, which would have enormous consequences for Germany”, says Jeffrey Rathke, deputy director of CSIS’s Europe Program.
Merkel did not respond to Trump’s criticism during the campaign. Since then, she has pushed back against some of his policies.
She defended the news media after Trump tweeted that journalists are “the enemy of the American people”.