President Donald Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron that the European Union is worse than China on trade during a conversation that portended the tense end to this year's G7 summit.
In a meeting at the White House during the French president's visit to Washington in April, Macron suggested the United States and France should work together to resolve shared trade problems with Beijing, prompting Trump to make his remark, a person in the room told CNN.
Trump told Macron during their meeting in Washington that there are too many German cars in the United States, the source previously told CNN. The source did not say Trump explicitly said he wanted all German-made cars out of the US. Trump focused his conversation with Macron on German trade for about 15 minutes in the one-hour meeting.
Trump has been on a tear about German trade and cars in particular, bringing up the issues with other European leaders with whom he has met over the last few months, the source said.
The details of the conversation, which Axios previously reported, come amid fears of a looming trade war over the Trump administration's move to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. Those tensions boiled over during the G7 summit in Canada on Saturday, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European leaders reaffirming plans to institute retaliatory measures and Trump lashing out in response by refusing to endorse the group of industrialized nations' communique.
That, in turn, prompted harsh reactions from European officials and members of Congress, including Republican Sen. John McCain, who said Americans would continue to stand with the nation's historical allies.
"To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values," the Arizona senator tweeted. "Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn't."
Senior Trump aides escalated the rhetoric on Sunday morning's news shows, with chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow calling Trudeau's remarks "a betrayal" on CNN's "State of the Union" and top trade adviser Peter Navarro saying on "Fox News Sunday" that "there's a special place in hell" for the Canadian leader.
Trump, who is in Singapore for negotiations with North Korea, continued to rip into US trading partners late Sunday night Eastern Time, repeating complaints about the US trade deficit and contributions to NATO.
"Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal," Trump wrote in a series of posts on Twitter. "According to a Canada release, they make almost 100 Billion Dollars in Trade with U.S. (guess they were bragging and got caught!). Minimum is 17B. Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!"
"Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers & Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?" the President continued. "Not fair to the PEOPLE of America! $800 Billion Trade Deficit ... And add to that the fact that the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!). The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!"