Trump calls French president’s criticism of NATO ‘nasty’ and ‘disrespectful’

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“You just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO,” Trump said, sitting next to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at a one-on-one meeting between the two leaders Tuesday morning.

Though Trump himself has long been a vocal critic of NATO — a combative stance that has alarmed Western allies and seemed to prompt Macron’s comments — Trump took umbrage at the French assessment of the alliance, and depicted France as the beneficiary of American largesse.

“I would say that nobody needs NATO more than France,” Trump said. “That’s why I think when France makes a statement like they made about NATO, that’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”

Trump’s tough talk on France came just a day after the United States threatened new tariffs of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion in French products, including wine, cheese and yogurt — a response, Trump’s chief trade negotiator said, to a French digital services tax that the United States concluded is discriminating against American Internet companies.

Trump, who has had a contentious relationship with large technology companies like Facebook and Google since becoming president, said he had no particular affinity for those companies, but nonetheless took a proprietary interest.

“They’re our companies, they’re American companies,” he said. “If anyone is going to take advantage of the American companies, it’s going to be us. It’s not going to be France.”

Trump comments came during what was billed a photo opportunity between himself and Stoltenberg, and instead turned into a freewheeling news conference, which lasted more than 50 minutes and — as the NATO secretary general sat by only occasionally speaking at Trump’s invitation — covered everything from the impeachment inquiry Trump is facing back home to the upcoming British election to Trump’s thoughts on whether his secretary of state should seek a Senate seat.