President Donald Trump struck an adversarial tone toward the European Union in an interview that aired Sunday by describing it as a “foe” on trade issues, another in a series of trade-related criticisms Trump has lobbed at international allies in recent days and weeks.
Trump has been criticizing American allies during his European tour that included attending the NATO summit in Brussels last week and meeting with British leaders. On Monday, he is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
“I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade,” Trump said of the 28-member organization during an interview recorded Saturday at his Scottish golf course with CBS News anchor Jeff Glor. “Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.”
Trump also used the term foe to describe aspects of the U.S. relationship with Russia and China, but added an explanation he didn’t include when he mentioned the European Union.
“It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they’re competitive,” Trump said of the superpowers. “They want to do well, and we want to do well.”
For the European Union, Trump was less forgiving.
“EU is very difficult,” Trump said before referencing his Scottish and German ancestry.
“I love those countries. I respect the leaders of those countries,” the president said. “But, in a trade sense, they’ve really taken advantage of us. And many of those countries are in NATO, and they weren’t paying their bills.”
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, wrote on Twitter after the interview aired, “America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.”
Trump on Sunday wrote in a series of tweets that he welcomed a meeting with Putin and also took aim at the news media.
“Heading to Helsinki. Finland — looking forward to meeting with President Putin tomorrow. Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia . . . over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough — that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition! Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems . . . know how to do is resist and obstruct! This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country — but at some point, it will heal!”
Monday’s meeting between Trump and Putin comes three days after the U.S. Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges of hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in an effort to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Trump, in the CBS interview, said he is heading into Monday’s meeting with Putin with “very low expectations.”
“I think that getting along with Russia is a good thing, but it’s possible we won’t,” Trump said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted Sunday that Trump should express “outrage” to Putin at the election interference and demand that the 12 indicted Russians be sent to the United States for trial.
“For @realDonaldTrump to meet with President Putin without expressing the outrage of the American people & securing real progress would be terrible for the US & and the security of our election system,” Schumer tweeted.
He added that the president should not agree to lift or weaken any sanctions on Russia.
“Putin’s interference in our 2016 elections & our upcoming election is a serious threat to our democracy that transcends political parties,” he wrote.
Trump again called the investigation into Russian meddling a “witch hunt,” saying in the CBS interview that the special counsel’s probe has hurt the United States’ standing in the world.
“I think we’re greatly hampered by this whole witch hunt that’s going on in the United States,” the president said. “I think it hurts our relationship with Russia. I actually think it hurts our relationship with a lot of countries. I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on.”
Trump on Sunday congratulated Putin on Twitter after the conclusion of the 2018 soccer World Cup in Russia.
“Congratulations to France, who played extraordinary soccer, on winning the 2018 World Cup. Additionally, congratulations to President Putin and Russia for putting on a truly great World Cup Tournament -- one of the best ever!” he wrote.