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President Trump Admonishes French President Macron For Criticizing NATO

Dec 3, 2019
Originally published on December 3, 2019 7:38 pm
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

President Trump is in London today, where he's meeting with other leaders from the NATO alliance. He had a series of one-on-one meetings today. These events are meant to be quick, but no matter who he was with, the president kept talking to reporters. White House correspondent Tamara Keith is traveling with President Trump. She joins us from London.

Hey, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

CHANG: So it seemed like every time I looked up at the TV today, President Trump was there making more news. Can you just tell me, how long did he spend talking with reporters today?

KEITH: It was a total of 122 minutes, which is a lot by any standard.

CHANG: Yeah.

KEITH: And as you say, he was able, by doing this, to dominate television, at least this morning. It's something that he has used sort of strategically at other trying times in his presidency. Just to give you a sense of the waterfront here, here are some of the things he addressed - NATO, ISIS, China trade, North Korea, Russia, the stock market, 5G technology, impeachment, and he even announced that the G-7 will be held at Camp David next year on...

CHANG: A whole potpourri of news.

KEITH: (Laughter) Yes. And on more than one occasion, he turned to the pool reporters and said, anybody else got questions?

CHANG: Wow.

KEITH: Of course, they did.

CHANG: Right. Of course. So it sounds like he talked for over two hours. You gave us one top headline - the next G-7 will be at Camp David. What are some other top headlines today that he announced?

KEITH: The most notable thing is that this was at the start of a NATO summit meant to celebrate 70 years of the alliance. And he was openly feuding with French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron had recently said in an interview that he felt that the NATO alliance was experiencing brain death. And he was sort of critical of the United States in that interview. That put President Trump in this weird position of suddenly - even though Trump has been very critical of NATO in the past, he was suddenly defending NATO. He was doing this while sitting next to NATO's secretary-general.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And you just can't go around making statements like that about NATO. It's very disrespectful.

CHANG: That is very different from what he sounded like last year.

KEITH: Absolutely. I mean, he has previously called it obsolete, but now he's saying Macron was saying nasty things about NATO and you can't do that. Interestingly, though, when Macron was in the room with him a few hours later, Trump was much more conciliatory, saying, oh, I'm sure we can work things out. But Macron was actively pushing back on the president in a number of areas.

CHANG: You also mentioned that Trump talked about impeachment. It's, of course, a topic that no one can ignore right now. Tomorrow is the first House Judiciary Committee hearing in the impeachment inquiry. Did the president talk specifically about what he expects to see tomorrow?

KEITH: He did. And the White House is not participating in that hearing. He decried the process is completely unfair. You know, he was sitting next to world leaders openly bashing congressional Democrats and also argued that he has done nothing wrong, so why should he be impeached? A reporter then asked him, well, if you've done nothing wrong, then why not let some top aides who the White House has been blocking from testifying, people like acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, why not have them testify on his behalf?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: So when it's fair - and it will be fair in the Senate - I would love to have Mike Pompeo. I'd love to have Mitch. I'd love to have Rick Perry and many other people testify. But I don't want them to testify when this is a total fix.

KEITH: So what he seems to be saying is that the House is controlled by Democrats. He doesn't think they can be fair, but maybe in the Senate, he would be open to letting his top aides participate. I think that until and if this gets to the Senate for a trial, it's hard to say how the president will react because, up until this point, the White House has worked very hard to prevent people close to the president from testifying.

CHANG: That's Tamara Keith, NPR White House correspondent, traveling with the president in London.

Thanks, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.