Donald Trump gives a 10-out-of-10 to his relationship with G7 countries
LA MALBAIE, Que. - President Donald Trump wrapped his short trip to Canada extolling his relationship with the G7 countries as a 10 out of 10, and blasting reports of rifts between the U.S. and world as nothing more than ``fake news.''
In a freewheeling news conference at the G7 summit in La Malbaie, Trump defended his contentious case for bringing Russia back to an expanded G8, and he riffed again on what he said are unfair trade deficits with his country.
``It's going to change, a hundred percent. And tariffs are going to come way down, because people cannot continue to do that. We're like the piggybank that everybody is robbing,'' Trump said. ``And that ends.''
He blamed past world leaders, including past presidents, for that situation, but said the current crew - including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - now know that the ``gig is up.''
Trump's tirade came before he left Canada for Singapore for his historic summit with the North Korean leader North Korea's Kim Jong Un. His early exit meant he skipped G7 events, including a session on climate.
When a CNN reporter asked Trump to respond to a question about whether he had sowed division in the G7 in what many have described as a G6-plus-one scenario, the president excoriated the reporter for perpetuating ``fake news.''
He said he gets along well with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Trudeau.
``I would say that the level of relationship is a 10. We have a great relationship. Angela and Emmanuel and Justin. I would say the relationship is a 10,'' Trump said.
``On a scale of 0 to 10, I would rate it a 10.''
He said the trade deficits that the U.S. faces ``with virtually every country in the world'' is the fault of past leaders from the last 50 years.
``A lot of these countries actually smile at me when I'm talking and the smile is - we couldn't believe we got away with it,'' Trump said.
He insisted things will be different going forward and argued that other countries have no choice in the matter. If they refuse to change, the massive U.S. economy could decide to no longer trade with them, he warned.
Trump said he doesn't blame the current leaders, but he had a sharp warning for them if they don't work with him to correct what he sees as an unfair situation.
``I will blame them if they don't act smart,'' he said. ``They understand that. They know it. When I'm telling them, they're smiling at me. You know, it's like the gig is up.''
The news conference capped off Trump's first official visit to Canada as president. His stay lasted about 24 hours, but he loomed large.
He made impacts on the summit even before his arrival in Quebec.
First he launched a Twitter attack on Canada's trade policies on the evening before the summit. He then caused a stir Friday, right before he left Washington, by recommending Russia be invited to re-join the alliance. When he arrived, he raised eyebrows by arriving late at a breakfast meeting on women's equality.
During Saturday's news conference, Trump reiterated that Russia should be welcomed back into the G7 because a G8 would be more meaningful.
``I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in. I think it would be good for the world, I think it would be good for Russia, I think it would be good for the United States, I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7,'' Trump said Saturday.
``We're looking for peace in the world, we're not looking to play games.''
Canada has flatly rejected welcoming Russia back to the G7 fold, pointing to its annexation of Crimea. And European Council President Donald Tusk said Trump's criticism of the international rules-based order is ``playing into the hands of those who seek a new post-West order where liberal democracy and fundamental freedoms would cease to exist.''
In 2014, the then-G8 kicked Russia out of the club. Canada and its Western allies oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and for the ongoing fight between Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine's east.
On Saturday morning, Trump created a distraction when he showed up late for the G7 meeting on women's empowerment. He arrived several minutes after the start of the breakfast meeting between G7 leaders and the gender equality advisory council that Trudeau created for this year's summit.
Trump missed Trudeau's introductory statement at the meeting and entered the room while council co-chair Isabelle Hudon, who is Canada's ambassador to France, was speaking.
His arrival was impossible to miss as security personnel had to open a path for Trump through a mob of journalists, many of whom were holding large cameras.
Trump stopped at the edge of the room and flashed a big smile in Trudeau's direction before continuing to his seat.
The rapid-fire clicks of cameras intensified as Trump made his way into the room - to the point that the noise of all the cameras almost drowned out Hudon's remarks.
Fellow G7 leaders stared at Trump as he slowly made his way to his seat, which was across the table from Trudeau and next to International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde.
Later Saturday, Hudon told reporters that the group really wanted Trump to show up. She insisted that the meeting ran smoothly the rest of the way, with Trump as an engaged participant.
``It's true that we hoped he would come to sit in his chair,'' Hudon said. ``We were a bit anxious about getting our seven out of seven.''
After Trump's departure, the other G7 leaders held meetings without him for the rest of the day. They discussed issues like climate change, oceans protection and international development.