“NATO serves a great purpose … and I think that’s insulting to a lot of different forces, including a man that does a very good job at running NATO. I was very surprised,” Trump told reporters in London as he appeared with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg at Winfield House.
Macron’s remark was a “very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries” and was “very disrespectful,” Trump added. He noted that Turkey responded by saying Macron was “brain dead.”
“Nobody needs NATO more than France,” Trump alleged. “It’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”
Critics have accused Trump of undermining NATO by seeking to cut down U.S. funding for the largely European treaty group, but Trump has said he just wants the countries part of NATO to pay the funding they committed to years ago.
Trump praised Stoltenberg, saying he’s doing “a fantastic job” and calling himself “a big fan.”
“Frankly the one that benefits really the least is the United States. It got to be unfair for the United States because the United States was paying a disproportionate amount,” Trump said on Tuesday. “We have increased the numbers the other countries are paying by $130 billion,” Trump said. He was “happy to have helped,” he said.
Stoltenberg, in turn, told Trump, “Your leadership on defense spending is having a real impact.”
Trump spoke at the beginning of a series of meetings pertaining to NATO. He traveled to London on Dec. 2 with a number of people from his administration, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and top adviser Jared Kushner, the husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump.
Trump also took aim at France itself, telling reporters: “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. It’s a very tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France. You look at what’s happened with the yellow vests or you look at what’s going on during certain parts of this season, they’ve had a very rough year.”