In feud, Trump pulls U.S. from G-7 state­ment



que­bec city — Pres­i­dent Trump feuded with Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and threat­ened to im­pose penal­ties on for­eign au­to­mo­bile im­ports Satur­day, cap­ping an ac­ri­mo­nious meet­ing of the Group of Seven in­dus­trial na­tions that fur­ther frayed ties be­tween the United States and its clos­est al­lies.

Trump said Satur­day evening that he had in­structed U.S. of­fi­cials to with­draw sup­port for a joint state­ment with other mem­ber na­tions he had backed just hours ear­lier, say­ing the United States would not join after Trudeau pub­licly crit­i­cized Trump’s trade pol­icy.

“Based on Justin’s false state­ments at his news con­fer­ence, and the fact that Canada is charg­ing mas­sive Tar­iffs to our U.S. farm­ers, work­ers and com­pa­nies, I have in­structed our U.S. Reps not to en­dorse the Com­mu­nique as we look at Tar­iffs on au­to­mo­biles flood­ing the U.S. Mar­ket!,” Trump wrote on Twit­ter after leav­ing the sum­mit.

Trump, who did not spec­ify which of Trudeau’s state­ments he con­sid­ered false, said U.S. trade poli­cies were a re­sponse to un­fair Cana­dian prac­tices and char­ac­ter­ized the Cana­dian leader as “weak.”

Pres­i­dent’s tweet slams leader’s ‘false’ words

Ear­lier Satur­day, Trudeau crit­i­cized Trump’s re­cent de­ci­sion to place tar­iffs on steel and alu­minum from the Euro­pean Union, Canada and Mex­ico, say­ing it was “in­sult­ing” that Trump cited U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity as his rea­son for do­ing so.

“Cana­di­ans, we’re po­lite, we’re rea­son­able, but we also will not be pushed around,” Trudeau said at his own, sep­a­rate news con­fer­ence at the meet­ing’s end.

“I high­lighted di­rectly to the pres­i­dent that Cana­di­ans did not take it lightly that the United States has moved for­ward with sig­nif­i­cant tar­iffs on our steel and alu­minum in­dus­try,” Trudeau said. “Par­tic­u­larly, [they] did not take lightly that it’s for a na­tional se­cu­rity rea­son that for Cana­di­ans . . . who stood shoul­der to shoul­der with Amer­i­can sol­diers in far off lands in con­flicts from the First World War on­ward, it’s kind of in­sult­ing.”

G-7 lead­ers had hoped the an­nual sum­mit here would strengthen ties that had been tested by trade dis­putes. In­stead, it ended in a war of words be­tween Trump and the leader of one of the United States’ largest trad­ing part­ners that threat­ened to es­ca­late into a full-blown trade war.

Ear­lier Satur­day, Trump said he had floated the idea of coun­tries drop­ping all im­port bar­ri­ers, say­ing he would do the same in re­turn. But he warned he could cut off U.S. trade en­tirely with coun­tries that kept cur­rent rules in place, ar­gu­ing they had taken ad­van­tage of pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions to take ad­van­tage of the United States.

“We’re like the piggy bank that ev­ery­body is rob­bing,” Trump said here at a news con­fer­ence. “And that ends.”

Satur­day’s clashes ended a sum­mit that was marked by re­peated dis­agree­ments be­tween the United States and its clos­est al­lies. The G-7, in its cur­rent form, con­sists of the United States, Canada, Bri­tain, Ger­many, France, Italy and Ja­pan.

Trump on Fri­day called for Rus­sia to be read­mit­ted to the G-7 after it was ex­pelled in 2014 for an­nex­ing Ukraine’s Crimea. he de­parted the gath­er­ing early — skip­ping a dis­cus­sion of global cli­mate change — to fly to Sin­ga­pore for a nu­clear sum­mit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Now, lead­ers from the G-7 and else­where face a string of trade de­ci­sions that will ei­ther pre­serve the ex­ist­ing global eco­nomic sys­tem or re­shape it, with millions of jobs and tril­lions of dol­lars hang­ing in the balance.

Trump cau­tioned other na­tions — those in the G-7 and around the world — that the size of the U.S. econ­omy means other na­tions can’t win a trade war.

“We win that war a thou­sand times out of a thou­sand,” Trump said.

Trump would al­most cer­tainly need help from Congress to com­pletely cut off trade with a U.S. ally. But he has al­ready made sig­nif­i­cant changes to trade pol­icy — work­ing around bi­par­ti­san op­po­si­tion from Congress — through in­vok­ing a pre­vi­ously sel­dom-used pro­vi­sion that al­lows pres­i­dents to make trade de­ci­sions if they deem it nec­es­sary to pro­tect na­tional se­cu­rity.

His Satur­day ac­tions faced bi­par­ti­san crit­i­cism in Congress.

GOP Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) re­buked Trump’s po­si­tion in a Twit­ter post. “To our al­lies: bi­par­ti­san ma­jori­ties of Amer­i­cans re­main pro-free trade, pro-glob­al­iza­tion & sup­port­ive of al­liances based on 70 years of shared val­ues. Amer­i­cans stand with you, even if our pres­i­dent doesn’t,” he wrote.

Democrats Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) also posted their op­po­si­tion to Trump on Twit­ter. “Are we ex­e­cut­ing Putin’s diplo­matic and na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy or AMER­ICA’s diplo­matic and na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy? After the last few days, it’s hard to tell,” Schumer wrote.

Trump de­scribed for­eign lead­ers as re­cep­tive to his de­mands in pri­vate, though Trudeau and oth­ers showed few, if any, pub­lic signs of cav­ing.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s of­fice re­leased a photo of mul­ti­ple lead­ers ap­pear­ing to con­front a dis­pleased Trump. Trump na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton, who was fea­tured in the photo Merkel’s of­fice re­leased, used the im­age in his own Twit­ter post and crit­i­cized for eign lead­ers.

“Just an­other #G7 where other coun­tries ex­pect Amer­ica will al­ways be their bank. The Pres­i­dent made it clear to­day. No more,” he wrote.

A Reuters pho­tog­ra­pher, mean­while, cap­tured a pho­to­graph Fri­day of the im­print that French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron left on Trump’s right hand after a hand­shake, sug­gest­ing the French leader used a force­ful grip. After the sum­mit, Macron wrote on Twit­ter Satur­day evening that Trump had come up against a united front from the other G-7 mem­bers, added that the iso­la­tion marked a break from Amer­i­can tra­di­tion.

It was part of a broader, more con­fronta­tional ap­proach by for­eign lead­ers to the sec­ond G-7 meet­ing of Trump’s pres­i­dency. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from other G-7 coun­tries said they felt as though they had made progress in con­vey­ing their po­si­tions to Trump, some­thing many of them felt pres­sured to do by vot­ers at home.

Trump said the lead­ers dis­cussed the ques­tion of Rus­sia’s in­clu­sion in the group but reached no con­clu­sion. “We didn’t do votes or any­thing, but it has been dis­cussed,” he said.

De­spite the ten­sion, the mem­ber states’ lead­ers were cor­dial in per­son, Trump in­cluded. He made first-name ref­er­ences to “An­gela” and “Justin,” and he re­peat­edly in­sisted he blamed pre­vi­ous U.S. lead­ers, not for­eign ones, for what he sees as the global trade im­bal­ance.

Trump said the lead­ers dis­cussed the ques­tion of Rus­sia’s in­clu­sion in the group but reached no con­clu­sion. “We didn’t do votes or any­thing, but it has been dis­cussed,” he said.

Rus­sia is a per­ma­nent mem­ber of the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues. It also holds a seat in the larger Group of 20.

“We’re look­ing for peace in the world. We’re not look­ing to play games,” Trump said.

Trump is not the first politi­cian to make the re­alpoli­tik ar­gu­ment that Rus­sia be­longs at the G-7 ta­ble, but his po­si­tion is a turn­about from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, which con­demned the 2014 an­nex­a­tion and im­posed sanc­tions on Rus­sia as pun­ish­ment.

“Crimea was let go dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, and, you know, Obama can say all he wants, but he al­lowed Rus­sia to take Crimea. I might have had a very dif­fer­ent” re­sponse, Trump said.

Lead­ers from Canada and Bri­tain re­jected Trump’s call to bring Rus­sia back, say­ing Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin would have to make ma­jor changes to be given a wel­come. Al­though, new Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Giuseppe Conte sided with Trump.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have said they have “high con­fi­dence” that Rus­sia in­ter­fered in the 2016 elec­tion, and part of this year’s G-7 sum­mit was sup­posed to fo­cus on pro­tect­ing democ­ra­cies from for­eign med­dling. Spe­cial coun­sel Robert S. Mueller III is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence ef­forts, in­clud­ing whether Trump’s cam­paign col­luded with Rus­sian of­fi­cials.

G-7 mem­bers met in part to dis­cuss how to pre­vent elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence, and many re­main an­gry over Putin’s ac­tions in Ukraine.

At his news con­fer­ence, Trump first re­ferred to the an­nex­a­tion of Crimea only obliquely.

“Some­thing hap­pened awhile ago where Rus­sia is no longer in,” he said. “I think it would be good to have Rus­sia back in.”

As they de­parted Satur­day, it be­came clear that many for­eign lead­ers are still search­ing for ways to deal with the un­pre­dictable U.S. pres­i­dent.

On Fri­day evening, the White House is­sued a state­ment say­ing Trump and Trudeau were very close to a deal to re­work the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

But dur­ing his com­ments Satur­day morn­ing, Trump raised mul­ti­ple op­tions for NAFTA, in­clud­ing a po­ten­tial new deal or the pos­si­bil­ity of do­ing sep­a­rate deals with Mex­ico and Canada, ef­fec­tively cleav­ing the long­time agree­ment in two.

Euro­pean of­fi­cials de­scribed things much dif­fer­ently. Their lead­ers con­fronted Trump about how his pro­tec­tion­ist poli­cies had given them no choice but to re­tal­i­ate with tar­iffs of their own, a per­son fa­mil­iar with the en­counter said. These tar­iffs, they told Trump, would hurt ev­ery­one. Trump had tried to es­sen­tially splin­ter the Euro­pean lead­ers by ne­go­ti­at­ing some changes with Ger­many and dif­fer­ent ones with France, but those lead­ers ap­peared locked to­gether.

They had been care­ful not to re­veal their ap­proach be­fore meet­ing with Trump, al­though it ap­peared very cal­cu­lated.

“If you have a strat­egy, do not ex­plain your strat­egy be­fore the meet­ing — be­cause if you are ex­plain­ing your strat­egy be­fore the meet­ing, you are los­ing your strat­egy,” Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker told re­porters.

As for Trump’s pro­posal to elim­i­nate all tar­iffs, he said it was un­clear how other coun­tries would re­spond.

“I did sug­gest it,” Trump said. “I guess they are go­ing to go back to the draw­ing board and check it out.”


Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel speaks to Pres­i­dent Trump on Satur­day at the Group of Seven trade sum­mit in Canada. In his Satur­day warn­ing, Trump said he had floated drop­ping bar­ri­ers, too.


Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, left, and Chris­tine La­garde, manag­ing di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, mark Pres­i­dent Trump’s ar­rival for break­fast Satur­day in Que­bec. Satur­day’s clashes ended a sum­mit that was marked by re­peated...


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