President Trump has been one of NATO's biggest critics over the years, but on Tuesday he came to the alliance's defense when a fellow leader bashed it. Trump took exception to French leader Emmanuel Macron's assertion that NATO was experiencing "brain death," in part because it could no longer rely on a strong commitment from the US, reports the BBC. "It is a very, very nasty statement," Trump told reporters when asked about the comments. "You just can't go around making statements like that about NATO. It is very disrespectful." Trump said he was surprised by Macron's criticism because "nobody needs NATO more than France." He added that the US "benefits the least" from the alliance.
So what's going on? Foreign affairs expert Heather Conley of the Center for Strategic and International Studies thinks Macron sees an opportunity to boost France's leadership role given the political trouble in Britain and Germany. "President Macron is seizing that moment, seeking to be disruptive in his own way, and so we will see how that works," she says, per the New York Times. The tension comes ahead of direct talks between Trump and Macron at this week's NATO summit, notes USA Today. And it comes just after Trump threatened to impose tariffs on French imports. In other comments:
- China: Trump said any trade deal with China might have to wait until after the 2020 election, reports the Wall Street Journal.
- Prince Andrew: Trump said he didn't know Prince Andrew, but he said the prince's entanglement in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal is a "very tough story." The Daily Beast notes that the two have been photographed together multiple times, as recently as June.
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