President Trump defends wiretapping claims at joint news conference with German Chancellor Merkel

President Trump defends wiretapping claims at joint news conference with German Chancellor Merkel

March 17th, 2017 by Staff Report in Breaking News

Mobile app users can watch the video here.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (all times local):

3:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump's first meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel produced a slightly awkward moment when the president didn't shake the German leader's hand in front of photographers in the Oval Office.

Trump told photographers to "send a good picture back to Germany, please." He said the leaders had had "very good" talks so far, while Merkel praised the "friendly reception."

Photographers then shouted "handshake!" Merkel quietly asked Trump "do you want to have a handshake?"

There was no response from the president, who looked ahead with his hands clasped.

German weekly Der Spiegel commented that "the overall impression of this meeting was rather cool." German daily Bild wrote on its website: "Trump didn't want to give Merkel his hand in his office!"

Trump had earlier welcomed Merkel with a handshake. The two leaders later held a news conference.

___

2:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his White House shouldn't be blamed for quoting a Fox News analyst who accused British intelligence of helping former President Barack Obama spy on him.

There is no evidence such spying took place and GCHQ, the British electronic intelligence agency, has called the allegation "utterly ridiculous."

Trump says during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that "we said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television."

He says, "you shouldn't be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox."

He's also doubling down on his unproven wiretapping allegation with a reference to 2013 reports that the U.S. listened in on Merkel's phone calls.

He says that when it comes to wiretapping, "At least we have something in common, perhaps."

___

2:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is pushing back on whether his "America First" agenda is isolationist.

In a Friday news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump said: "I don't believe in an isolationist policy."

Trump has been deeply critical of foreign trade and national security agreements. Yet the president suggested that he is only trying to revise them to better serve U.S. interests, rather than pull back from the world entirely.

Trump said trade agreements have led to greater trade deficits. The U.S. trade deficit with Germany was $64.9 billion last year, the lowest since 2009, according to the Commerce Department.

Trump bristled at the indication from a German reporter that this could be interpreted as isolationist.

He said: "I don't know what newspaper you're reading, but I guess that would be an example of fake news."

___

2:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he expects the House Republican health plan will be passed "substantially pretty quickly."

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday, Trump calls it a "great plan" and says it is "getting more and more popular with the Republican base, the conservative base and with people generally."

Trump repeated his claim that so-called Obamacare is "a disaster." He said that in the end of the process it will be a great plan.

Several Republicans have said they can't support the law as it stands and are demanding changes.

___

2:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he has "strong support" for NATO but that allies "must pay what they owe."

Trump, making his first appearance with Merkel, opened their White House news conference Friday by saying that "many nations owe vast sums of money" and that situation is "very unfair to the United States."

Trump said these nations need "to pay their fair share" in order to receive the promise of defense from the rest of the alliance.

The president has long complained that the U.S. shoulders too much of the burden of the cost of the alliance, which now comprises 28 nation.

Merkel said she was encouraged that Trump supports NATO, stressed its vital role and pledged that Germany will increase its own payments.

___

2:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is stressing the need to protect the U.S. from what he calls "radical Islamic terrorism" in his joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The remarks come days after a federal court again struck down his executive order temporarily suspending the U.S. refugee program and barring people from a handful of Muslim-majority countries.

Trump says that both countries must protect themselves from the threat.

He says, "Immigration is a privilege, not a right, and the safety of our citizens must always come first, without question."

Trump spent a good part of 2016 bashing the chancellor, accusing her of "ruining" Germany for allowing an influx of refugees into Germany.

While Merkel insists that Germany will continue to take in people who genuinely need protection, her government has toughened asylum rules.

___

2:20 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says of her visit with President Donald Trump that it's "much better to talk to one another than about one another."

She says the two discussed apprenticeship programs, and international politics during the early part of their visit. She says they will continue speaking over lunch, with a focus on fair trade and other matters.

Trump is listening to her remarks through a translation earpiece.

___

12:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he is discussing a myriad of topics with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a key European leader he harshly criticized for opening the door to refugees from Syria.

The two leaders posed for photographers in the Oval Office before a one-on-one meeting. Trump joked: "send a good picture back to Germany, please."

They are expected to discuss strengthening NATO, fighting the Islamic State group and resolving Ukraine's conflict — all matters that require close cooperation between the U.S. and Germany.

A joint news conference will be held in the afternoon.

___

11:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump has welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House.

Merkel arrived Friday morning for a series of meetings with Trump. The itinerary includes discussions on strengthening NATO, fighting the Islamic State group and resolving Ukraine's conflict.

Trump spent much of 2016 bashing the chancellor, accusing her of "ruining" Germany for allowing an influx of refugees from Syria.

Merkel was originally supposed to visit the White House Tuesday. That meeting was delayed due to snow.

___

Previous story:

Trump welcomes Merkel to White House for high stakes visit

WASHINGTON — It was all smiles as President Donald Trump welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House on Friday, their first personal encounter since he frequently criticized her during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Their agenda included discussions on strengthening NATO, fighting the Islamic State group and resolving Ukraine's conflict, all matters that require close cooperation between the U.S. and Germany. The meeting, which was postponed from Tuesday because of a snowstorm, will be capped with a joint news conference.

Trump and Merkel smiled in front of cameras in the Oval Office at the start of their meeting, with the president urging journalists to "send a good picture back to Germany, please." The new president told reporters merely that he and Merkel would be discussing "many things" in their first face-to-face exchange of his presidency.

Related Article

Trump, Merkel face long list in first face-to-face meeting

Read more

Their sit-down could be a restart of a relationship complicated by Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail.

He spent a good part of 2016 bashing the chancellor, accusing her of "ruining" Germany for allowing an influx of refugees and other migrants from Syria.

"You watch what happens to Angela Merkel, who I always thought of as a very good leader until she did this. I don't know what went wrong with her," said then-candidate Trump at an August rally in Virginia. "What went wrong? Angela, what happened?"

Related Article

Volkswagen eyeing another crossover to be made in Chattanooga

Read more

Then, Trump seemed to care little about the potentially awkward ramifications were he to win. He invoked Merkel as a foil at his rallies, accusing his campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, of wanting to be "America's Angela Merkel." He lashed out at Time magazine when it named Merkel "Person of the Year" in 2015 instead of him.

Trump, at the time, did find ways to voice his respect. When a television station in September asked him to name a world leader he admired, he cited Merkel.

In his meetings with world leaders since the inauguration, Trump has adopted a more diplomatic public persona. He recently spent a weekend bonding with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, golfing and dining with Abe at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. He has cultivated a closer friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he has known for years.

But Merkel is used to an altogether different type of American leader, having shared a strong bond with President Barack Obama. She was the last of Obama's key European allies still in power when he left office. And as the leader of Europe's biggest economy and most stable government, Merkel emerged in recent years as the leading voice for a continent struggling with slow growth, identity issues and increased security threats after a string of terrorist attacks.

Reflecting their connection, Obama and his wife called Merkel and her husband on the day before Trump's inauguration to thank her for "her strong, courageous and steady leadership." It was Obama's final call with a foreign leader, his advisers said.

Merkel's first major encounter with Trump comes as she seeks a fourth term as chancellor in elections later this year. She has acknowledged the contest could be difficult and has stressed a need for stability after Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

She reportedly has studied Trump's speeches and policies in advance of her trip, eager to find areas for cooperation. Steven Keil, a fellow with The German Marshall Fund of the United States, said Merkel has little reason to dwell on Trump's past comments.

"Merkel is extremely pragmatic in her approach here, but she's also going to have some situations in which it will be tough for her to give too much," Keil said.

Trump has rattled European leaders with his "America first" mantra. He also backed Brexit and is skeptical of multilateral trade agreements. Merkel is expected to reiterate her belief that a strong EU remains in America's strategic and economic interests, a message she shared last month in Munich with Vice President Mike Pence.

She was accompanied by a trade delegation that includes top executives of BMW and Siemens, employers of tens of thousands of Americans. Many live in Southern states that Trump won in the U.S. election.

Military matters may be testy. Trump declared NATO "obsolete" before telling European leaders the alliance remains important. But he is expected to reiterate calls for NATO members to meet a minimum commitment for defense spending. Only the U.S. and four other members currently reach the benchmark of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense. Germany lags significantly behind.

Related Article

Tennessee joins automaker to create Volkswagen eLabs for area students

Read more

Loading...