Donald Trump vowed to stay out of the UK General Election on his arrival in London for the Nato summit today, but still managed to voice his support for Boris Johnson.
Trump again backed Brexit and said he had even predicted it as he defended himself against claims he should be impeached, calling his controversial conversation with Ukraine’s leader “flawless”.
Nato summit: UK General Election
“I don’t want to complicate it,” Trump added of the upcoming December election.
“I’ve won a lot of elections for a lot of people.
“I’ll stay out of the election. I’m a fan of Brexit, I called it. I was here, they asked if it was going to happen and I said yes and they smiled, it was just my opinion.”
However, Trump did add that he though UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “is very capable and I think he will do a good job”.
Trump lays into France’s digital tax
He also hit out at French President Emmanuel Macron following Macron’s comment calling Nato a “brain dead” organisation.
Trump has threatened to hit French imports with tariffs following France’s decision to implement a digital tax on US tech giants.
France earlier vowed to retaliate even as luxury stocks slipped as markets opened.
“France is not doing well economically at all, they are struggling,” Trump said. “It’s a tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France.”
Referencing the yellow vest protests, Trump added that it was “disrespectful” of Macron to criticise Nato with such unrest in France.
“No-one needs Nato more than France,” he said.
Trump said he was “not in love” with US tech behemoths Facebook, Google and Twitter, despite his evident enjoyment of the latter’s platform.
But he added that the global social networks and search engine are “our companies, American companies”. That means he wants the US to be the one to tax them, not anybody else.
“I’m not going to let anyone take advantage of American companies,” Trump said.
“If anyone is going to take advantage of American companies, it’s going to be us.I don’t want France to be taxing American companies.
“So we’re putting a tax on their [France’s] wines and everything else.”
Nato summit gets impeachment inquiry update
Trump labelled Democrats’ impeachment inquiry a “waste of time” as they try to unseat him from the White House.
The President is under fire for a controversial call in which he asked the Ukrainian President for help in investigating his Democrat rival Joe Biden.
The ongoing inquiry has heard from a former EU ambassador who blew the whistle on Trump’s call, before which he withheld money from Ukraine.
The ambassador, Gordon Sondland, told the inquiry that there was a “quid pro quo” evident in the call – that Trump would give Ukraine the money in exchange for an investigation into Biden.
But Trump today said: “The only people who are critical are people who haven’t read [the transcript of the call].
“We have trememndous support. The impeachment inquiry is going nowhere. We have 96 to nothing in terms of votes in Congress. Republican senators are very angry about what’s going on.”
US-China trade deal – after 2020 election?
Trump dropped a bombshell on reporters by saying he would prefer to wait until after the US 2020 presidential election to negotiate a trade deal with China.
In some ways I think it’s better to wait until after the election with China,” he said.
“In some ways I want to wait until after the election for a China deal.”
The US President insisted that it was his decision – not China’s – as to whether the two superpowers strike a trade deal to end their ongoing trade war.
“It’s if I want to make it, not if they want to make it. I don’t know if I want to make it but you’ll find out very soon,” he told reporters.
Markets are expected to react badly to Trump’s impromptu bombshell, according to experts.
“In classic Trump style, the president has argued that he might wait until after the US election for a trade deal, something likely to go down very badly in markets,” Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said.
“Investors look to have been suckered into believing the trade deal rhetoric again, which raises the prospect that Monday’s sell-off may turn into something more substantial.”
NHS – on the table or off it?
Jeremy Corbyn had ramped up pressure on PM Johnson ahead of Trump’s arrival with a letter pressing Trump to say the NHS was “genuinely off the table” in US-UK post-Brexit trade talks.
In Trump’s ad-hoc press conference this morning, he gave the Prime Minister a helping hand by saying the US is not interested in the UK’s public health service.
“No, not at all, I have nothing to do with it. Never even thought about it, honestly,” Trump told media.
“I don’t even know where that rumour started. We have absolutely nothing to do with it and we wouldn’t want to if you handed it to us on a silver platter, we want nothing to do with it.”
That, Johnson will hope, will put paid to Labour’s claims of a secret plot to sell off the NHS under a Tory government.
Trump was also questioned on his war of words with North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un.
Today North Korea reasserted its position that Trump’s administration is running out of time to save nuclear negotiations.
A senior diplomat was widely reported to say the US must choose what “Christmas gift” it receives from North Korea.
Talks have stalled since a February summit between the two leaders when negotiations broke down as the US rejected North Korea’s demands for sanctions relief.
Pressed on whether the country will de-nuclearise, Trump said: “We are the most powerful country in the world and hopefully we don’t have to use it [nuclear weapons]. But if we have to then we’ll use it. my relationship with Kim Jong-Un is really good.”
“If I wasn’t president you’d be at war right now in Asia,” he added, “and that brings in a lot of other countries.
“You’d be at war right now if it wasn’t for me.”