President Donald Trump is being widely quoted by European allies as making a rather disturbing statements about Germany to EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk. German news magazine Der Spiegel is quoting multiple sources that Trump went off on Germany over the trade surplus and said that “The Germans are evil, very evil.” (Other translations have “bad, very bad”). If true, it would not exactly be a diplomatic or even comprehensible approach. Trump also reportedly said that he would end the German car sales in the United States behind the surplus. Der Spiegel is a widely respected publication. However, this would be as big a story if the statement was not made. The article describes almost open hostility and shock toward Trump. If the statement was not made (and Juncker has not denied it), it would be evidence of an open effort by top European diplomats to portray Trump as unhinged and unstable. The White House, of course, should be able to confirm or deny the story. I truly hope that this is a fake news story because the alternative would be unnerving. [Update: The White House denies that Trump made the statement] However, the White House does not deny the car statement and only says that Trump was referring to “bad” trade policies. That would be a considerable “lost in translation” moment.
Trump is quoted as saying “Look at the millions of cars they’re selling in the US. Terrible. We will stop this.” If this statement was made, Trump could claim that he was merely talking about the trade deficit, not barring or limiting the sales of German cars (which he could not really do unilaterally). Nevertheless, the EU officials took the alleged comment as a direct threat to close the market or, as Trump previously threatened, to impose a crippling import tax on German cars coming through Mexico (Trump earlier told a German newspaper that he wanted a 35% import tax). Any such protectionist measures would be blocked in Congress and, if they were approved, would trigger a trade war that could easily cripple our own economy.
Here is the translation for the Der Spiegel article:
US President Donald Trump complained bitterly about the German trade surplus on his meeting with the EU top in Brussels. “The Germans are evil, very evil,” said Trump. This was learned by the SPIEGEL from participants in the meeting. Trump said, “Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US, and we’ll stop that.”
Once again, if this is false, Trump can finally prove an concerted effort to create fake news by one of the leading journalistic publications in the world. If it is true, the comments are alarming not just in the attacking of one of our closest allies but in isolating the United States from EU countries generally. The public has a right to know if such an alarming statement was made by our president. Even if Trump thought that this was a good bargaining approach, it is being widely reported as evidence that the President threw a “tantrum” and shocked those in the meeting with his demeanor.
It is interesting that the White House now denies the statement but there has been no denial from the Europeans. If the White House is correct, this is one of the clearest examples of a hit job by a media outfit.
Obviously, the Russians are loving all of this including Trump shoving a NATO member out of the way, which has been playing on the Russian media outfit RT: