President Trump met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in London on Tuesday, ahead of a celebration of the 29-member alliance's 70th anniversary. Asked about French President Emmanuel Macron's comment last month that NATO was "brain dead," Trump delivered an unexpectedly robust defense of the organization. Macron's comment to The Economist centered on Turkey's invasion of Syria and what he saw as Trump's waning commitment to NATO.
Trump called Macron's comments "very, very nasty" to the alliance's 28 other members and "a very dangerous statement for them to make." Macron "just can't go around making statements like that about NATO," he added. "It is very disrespectful."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier responded that Macron is "brain dead" and threatened to veto a NATO plan to defend Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in the event of a Russian attack unless every NATO member recognized the Kurdish YPG militia as terrorists. The YPG leads the U.S.-allied Syrian Defense Forces that routed the Islamic State with U.S. support. Trump, however, focused his ire on Macron, noting France's high unemployment rate, criticizing its tariff on U.S. technology, and taunting the French president, "Nobody needs NATO more than France."
CNN's New Day reminded viewers that Trump is usually very critical of NATO, calling it obsolete and complaining frequently that the U.S. is being taken advantage of by other members of the alliance.
"The world has changed a lot and NATO is changing right now," Trump said. "I've become a bigger fan of NATO because they have become more flexible." Trump also insisted he "did nothing wrong" with Ukraine, criticized Democrats for impeaching him, and said he "likes the idea of waiting until after the (2020) election" to reach a trade deal with China.