Secretary General Stoltenberg meets with President Trump (Q&A Part 1)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with US President Donald Trump ahead of Leaders meeting in London (Q&A), December 3, 2019.

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[Audience Member] President, you’re here, you’re here in London, are you gonna be seeing Prime Minister Johnson, and do you have any thoughts—


[Audience Member] on the upcoming election?

I have no thoughts on it. It’s going to be a a very important election for this great country, but I have no thoughts on it, I will be meeting with him, yes.

[Audience Member] When, when will that be?

I don’t know, I have the schedule over here. I have many meetings. I have meetings set up with lots of different countries.

[Audience Member] President Macron’s criticism about NATO, saying, “That it is brain dead.”

Who said that?

[Audience Member] President Macron.

I know, and then Turkey responded by saying, “that he was brain dead,” which is interesting. Now, NATO serves a great purpose. It got to be unfair for the United States because the United States was paying a disproportionate amount. And I heard that President Macron said, “NATO is brain dead.” I think that’s very insulting to a lot of different forces, including a man that does a very good job in running NATO. Uh, no it, it has a great purpose, especially with the fact that NATO is becoming much more flexible, in terms of what it looks at. But I was very surprised.

I’d like to ask you, “What did you think? He made a statement about NATO being brain dead.” What did you think?

Well I, that’s not the case, because actually NATO is active, NATO is agile, NATO is adapting and, and we have just implemented the largest reinforcement of collective defense, since the end of the cold war. With higher end is our troops. For the first time in our history we have combating troops in the eastern part of the alliance. The European allies and Canada are investing more in high end capabilities and we are stepping up the fight against terrorism and we are as in (mumbles) for the first time also addressing destitute implications of the rise of (mumbles) So the reality is that this alliance have proven once again to be able to adapt to change responding to a changing world. So that’s the reason why we are a success, the ability to change while the world is changing.

It’s a tough statement though, when you make a statement like that. that is a very, very, very nasty statement to essentially 28 including them, 28 countries. I think that, uh, you know, you have a very high unemployment rate in France. France is not doing well economically at all. They’re starting to tax other people’s products so therefore, we go and tax them, which is taking place right now, in technology and we’re doing their wines and everything else. It’s uh, it’s a very tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France. You look at what’s happened with the yellow vests or you look at what’s going on during certain parts of their season. They’ve have a very rough year. And, you just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO. It’s very disrespectful.

[Audience Member] Mr. President, the Department of Justice, Inspector General report is due out soon and it’s been recorded that the Attorney General disagrees with that conclusion. Do you agree with the Attorney General Barr—

Well, I just don’t know, yeah, I just don’t, I haven’t seen it. I purposely stay out of it, we have a great Attorney General. He’s a very fair man, he’s a great gentlemen. He didn’t need this job. He took this job because he wanted to do something great for the country. As you know, he was a very successful man. Picked a great company to work, when he left as you know, he picked a great company to work for, but is a very successful man, didn’t need the job. He’s doing a great job. I have not seen the report. Perhaps he’s read the report, I think he was quoted incorrectly, I do believe that ’cause I’m hearing the report is very powerful. But I’m hearing that by reading lots of different things. Not from inside information, it’s really from outside information. I think all we have to do is wait. It’s gonna be released on Monday, Monday or so. Ah, I think we have to read it and we have to see it, but I hear there’s a lot of devastating things in that report, but we’ll see what happens. Look, we have a few days to wait, we’ve been all waiting a long time. I do think the big report to wait for is going to be the Durham Report, that’s the one that people are really waiting for. And, he’s highly respected and we’re, and he’s worked very hard and he’s worked long hours I can tell you and gone over all over the world. So, we’ll see. But the Durham Report is the report people are really looking forward to. But this is a very important report. The IG report is a very important report. If what I read is correct, I read it in your newspaper. If what I read is correct, uh, that would be a little disappointing, but it was just one asset, one aspect of the report, we’ll see what happens. We’ll see it, it’s coming out in a few days. I hear it’s devastating. But, we’ll soon find out. Yes.

[Audience Member] How do you plan to bring NATO together at this summit?

Well, I think the Secretary General has done a good job in bringing NATO together. The, the, um, it’s been unfair because the United States is paying 4% and some people could say 4.3% of the largest GDP there is in the world by far, because it’s brought it to a level that nobody thought even possible. So we’re paying four to 4.3% when Germany is paying one to 1.2% at max 1.2% of a much smaller GDP. That’s not fair. And it’s a, you know, it’s not fair also when you have the European Union, many of these are the same countries but you have the European Union treating the United States very, very unfairly on trade. The deficit for many, many years for decades, but the deficit for many, many years has been astronomical with the United States and Europe in their favor. And I’m changing that, and I’m changing it fairly rapidly, but it’s not, it’s not right to be taken advantage of on NATO and also then to be taken advantage of on trade. And that’s what happens, and we can’t let that happen. So, uh, we’re talking to the European Union and we’re talking to various countries about NATO but we’re talking to the European Union about trade and they have to shape up, otherwise things are gonna get very tough.

[Secretary General Stoltenberg] Let me just add that NATO is the only place where North America and Europe meet every day. Where we discuss, decide and take actions together, responding to a wide range of different security threats and challenges. And we do that more now than we have done for many, many years. And the reality is that not least because it has been so clearly conveyed from President Trump that we need fair (mumbles) allies are stepping up. And we are also mobilizing this alliance, responding to new challenges in cyberg, in space, we will declare space as a new operation domain for NATO, something we never had before, so it just highlights that the well, there are differences, because we are 29 different countries from both side of the Atlantic with different political parties and power, a different history, different geography but despite these differences, we have always been able to unite around the court halls to protect and defend each other. Because we are stronger and safer together. And I’m absolutely certain that that will also would be the case now.

[President Trump] I would say, I would say that nobody needs NATO more than France. You just look back over the last long period of time. Nobody needs NATO more than France. And frankly, the one that benefits really the least is the United States. We benefit the least, we’re helping Europe. Europe unites and they go against a common foe, uh, that may or may not be a foe. Can’t tell you that, but there are other foes out there also. But I think nobody needs it more than France. And, that’s why I think that when France makes a statement like they made about NATO, it’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.

[Audience Member] You mentioned the digital tax sir, what would it take for you not to impose those tariffs on the French products?

Well, look, I’m not in love with those companies, Facebook and Google and all of ’em, Twitter, although I guess I do pretty well with Twitter on the other side but I’m not necessarily in love with those companies. Uh, but uh, there are companies, they’re American companies I wanna tax those companies. They’re not gonna be taxed by France, so France is gonna put a tax on. It was totally out of the blue, he just had the idea, Emmanuel had an idea, “Let’s tax those companies.” well they’re American companies, I’m not gonna let people take advantage of American companies, because if anyone’s gonna take advantage of the American company, it’s gonna be us, it’s not gonna be France. And so, we’re taxing, as you know, we’re taxing their wines and everything else and we have a very very big tax to put on them. Plus, we have a tax going on an airbus and that’ll be a good thing for Boeing, but we’re only gonna do that if it’s necessary. As you know, we won in the World Trade Organization, we won seven and a half billion dollars. We never used to win before me, because before me, the United States was a sucker for all of these different organizations. And now they realize, the World Trade Organization realizes that my attitude on them if they don’t treat us fairly, well I’ll tell you someday what will happen and we’ve been winning a lot of cases at the World Trade Organization, we virtually very rarely did we ever win a case, they took advantage of the United States. So, that’s where it is, we won seven and a half billion dollars and if France puts a tax on our companies, again these are companies that are against, you know, they were against me, if I read the papers correctly, I don’t know why they were against me, but they were against me, they’re supposed to be very powerful, and yet I won. So maybe they’re not so powerful, but they’re American companies, I don’t want France taxing American companies. If they’re going to be taxed, it’s going to be the United States will tax them, okay?

[Audience Member] Then why are you staying out of the British election, sir, are you making—

Because I don’t want to complicate it. I can, uh, look, I’ve won a lot of elections for a lot of people, if you look just over the last few months, two elections in North Carolina I won. I helped the Governor of Kentucky, I mean the press doesn’t write it but they went up supposedly 17, 18, 19 points because of my… He lost by just a little bit, but I lifted him 19 points. In Louisiana, I got them into a runoff and after getting them into a runoff, he picked up 14 points because they thought he was gonna lose to a popular governor, John Bel Edwards, good guy, popular governor. Uh, he almost one, he lost by less than a point. Uh, but with the exception of those two races where I had a huge impact, because I raised them up almost to victory and they had no chance, with the exception of those two, I’ve won virtually every race that I’ve participated in. Uh, but this is a different country, and you know I say often, in Germany, they like Obama. The reason they like Obama, because Obama gave the ship away, he allowed them to take everything. He gave them things that I wouldn’t do. And, I love Germany, I love this country, I love a lot of countries but I’m representing the US. So, they may not like me because I’m representing us and I represent us strong. President Obama did not represent us strong, he gave everything away. And he shouldn’t have done that and that’s why we’re still paying the price for what he did. So, I’ll stay out of the election, you know that I was a fan of Brexit, I called it the day before, I was opening up Turnberry the day before Brexit, you were there, many of you were there. I mean I recognize that many of you were there. And they asked me whether or not Brexit would happen, and I said, “Yes,” and everybody smiled and they laughed, and I said, “Yes, it’s gonna happen.” In my opinion, it was just my opinion, the next day they had the election, and I was right. But, I stay out of it, I think Boris is very capable and I think he’ll do a good job.

[Audience Member] How is the relationship with President Marcon going into this meeting summit?

I think it’s fine, I’ve always had a good relationship with Emmanuel. Sometimes he’ll say things that he shouldn’t say, and I disagree with some of his policies, with respect to France, but he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. But sometimes I think he does things that are counterproductive for his own country.

Say it.

[Audience Member] Would you be able to work with a possible Prime Minister (mumbles) or is that—

I can work with anybody. I’m a very easy person to work with, you know, you wouldn’t believe it. Look at this gentleman, when I came in, I was angry at NATO and now I’ve raised a hundred and thirty billion dollars and by the way, you’re talking annually, you know, you’re talking about a tremendous amount of money. You’re talking about numbers that are astronomical and yet, you still have many delinquent, you know, I call them delinquent when they’re not paid up in full. And then I ask the other question, “When they don’t pay up in full, what happens to the past year?” So let’s say Germany’s at one percent and they stay at one percent and another one, well, does that mean it disappears for the last five years, what they haven’t paid, you know, nobody’s ever asked that question. Not a bad question for you to be asking, because, you know, it’s not like, “Oh gee, let’s start a brand-new year.” A lot of countries haven’t paid and you could make the case they haven’t paid, they’re really delinquent for 25, 30 years. And then you add all that up, and NATO is a very rich system, you know that, right. So, you know, they haven’t chosen to go that way, but when Germany’s at one to 1.2% and when they don’t pay up to the two, and let me tell you, the two is a very low number, you know, it really should be four, it shouldn’t be two, it should be four, but that’s the way it is. Yeah?

[Audience Member] Mr. President, are you concerned at all that the impeachment inquiry back home, Congress is preparing to impeach you, that it weakens your position as the President here?

I don’t think so, you know, I know most of the leaders, I get along with them, uh, it’s a hoax, the impeachment thing is a hoax. It’s turned into out to be a hoax, it’s done for purely political gain, they’re gonna see whether or not they can do something in 2020, ’cause otherwise they’re gonna lose. It’s turning out and you see it better than anybody. I read something in your paper the other day that it’s having a reverse effect, which some people thought might happen, I didn’t know, but I can tell you the districts where I won, and then they had an election in between mine. But they had an election and other people got in, Democrats got in, those districts are leaning very big toward me. Now I wasn’t in the race in 2018, so it’s not really the same thing. And a lot of my voters say they’re not gonna vote unless Trump is actually in the race, but uh, it’s really having a tremendous impact on and a lot of Democrats I hear are very upset. They just got back from their district and I hear they’re very upset. Uh, the impeachment witch hunt, it’s really just a continuation of the hoax that’s been taking place for the last three years. And I think you know that.

[Audience Member] And does it cast a cloud though, as you’re trying to negotiate—

Well, I would say this, I think it’s very unpatriotic of the Democrats to put on a performance where they do that. I do, I think it, I think it’s a bad thing for our country. Impeachment wasn’t supposed to be used that way. All you have to do is read the transcripts, you’ll see there was absolutely nothing done wrong. They had legal scholars looking at the transcripts the other day and they say these are absolutely perfect. Trump is right when he uses the word… Those concept, those calls that we made two of ’em were absolutely perfect calls. And, I think it’s a very bad thing for our country. Does it cast a cloud? Well, if it does, then the Democrats have done a very great disservice to the country. Which they have. They’ve wasted a lot of time. We’re trying to get prescription drugs reduced very substantially, we could do it easily. They don’t have any time to do anything. I call them, ‘The do nothing Democrats.” They are hurting our country very badly.

[Audience Member] Mr. President, will you meet with President Erdgoan here and—

I may, I, very good relationship, I may, you know. It could be, I don’t know if it’s on the schedule, but if it isn’t, I would.

[Audience Member] And is there still a place for Turkey in NATO after it’s invasion of Syria a couple of weeks ago?

Well, I’d like to ask the other countries, I mean I have my own views but I wouldn’t say it here, uh, good relationship with Turkey, we left their border. We’ve been on their border long enough. They’re doing just fine with their border, we kept the oil. I kept the oil. The only people we have over there now, we have a few that, a small group that are fighting the remnants of ISIS because they pop up again and we put ’em down. Uh, we’ve defeated the ISIS caliphate, nobody thought we could do that so quickly. I did it very quickly, when I came in it was virtually 100% and I knocked it down to zero. I knocked it down to zero. But, it pops up every once in awhile, so we have a very small group there and we’re doing it with others, in all fairness, but uh, importantly we kept the oil. And the oil is what fueled ISIS, that’s what fueled them. That’s what they, that’s what gave them the economic strength to do what they did. And of course we killed al-Baghdadi. And we also killed his second. So, that was very important, because he was trying to reform ISIS.

Say it.

[Audience Member] Should the National Health Service be on the table in trade talks?

No, not at all, I have nothing to do with it, never even thought about it. Honestly, we have enough, look, we are going to have a great healthcare system, we’re doing great healthcare work, we’ve got things really running well and if we get elected, if we take the House, keep the Senate, keep the White House, we’ll have phenomenal healthcare. But right now, we’ve made it very good and we have a hundred and eighty million people on plans that they absolutely love, private plans that they absolutely love. But, in this country, no, they have to work that out for themselves. We have absolutely, I don’t even know where that rumor 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.

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