NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with US President Donald Trump ahead of Leaders meeting in London (Q&A), December 3, 2019.
[Reporter] There’s some talk among lawmakers of censuring you instead of impeachment. What do you think about that?
Unacceptable, I did nothing wrong. I heard about it, now they want to go to censure, because they have no case for impeachment. So, they want to go to censure. I don’t want them to go to censure, I did nothing. I don’t want to be censured, if you do something wrong. I did nothing wrong. I had a great conversation, very respectful conversation with the president, a good person by the way, with the president of Ukraine. It was flawless. People have analyzed it from 15 different ways. It was flawless, there were many people on that line, including the secretary of state. And one person, two people had a complaint, and you take a look at those two people, and you tell me, but many people, and I know there were many people on the line. I mean, there’s always a lot of people. When you speak to a head of state, not only our people, they had people also, many people probably. No, I wouldn’t be happy with that at all. No, to me it’s unacceptable. I did nothing wrong. You don’t censure somebody when they did nothing wrong. They’re in search of a crime, that’s what they are—
[Reporter] Do you see their (mumbling)? They’re currently—
They’re what you call an investigation in search of a crime. Not only wasn’t there a crime, it’s not even a word that should be used. I had a very, very good conversation with the head of Ukraine. And, by the way, yesterday, he came out again and reaffirmed again that we had a very, very respectful, good conversation that President Trump did nothing wrong. He doesn’t even really understand what’s going on over here. They look at us like, is this country crazy? The Democrats have gone nuts, they’re crazy, and it’s very bad for our country.
[Reporter] Do you see a greater divide between the US and Europe now in NATO?
[Reporter] Do you see a greater divide in NATO between the US and the rest of—
No, not with us, but I do see France breaking off. I’m looking at him, and I’m saying, he needs protection more than anybody, and I see him breaking off. So, I’m a little surprised at that.
[Reporter] Is Turkey a dependable ally or dependable member of NATO? And when will you bring sanctions against them?
But the first part of your question. Say it again.
[Reporter] Thank you. Is Turkey a dependable member of NATO, and when will you bring sanctions against them for buying Russian S-400 Missiles?
Well, it’s a country that I happen to have a good relationship with. We did a deal that everybody was very critical of, and now they’re saying it works. I read a couple of stories just two days ago, that, wow, that deal that Trump did with Turkey, ’cause I want to get our soldiers out of there. I don’t want to be policing a border that’s been fought over for 2000 years. I want to get them out, but I wanted to keep the oil. And now they’re saying, that was a great deal that Trump made, took a lot of heat off of that deal. No, I think that as far as I’m concerned, I like Turkey, and I get along very well with the president, and I would hope that he’s a very good member of NATO, or will be, but we’ll what it is in the future. Could I ask you that question?
Yes, but Turkey is an important NATO ally. And you can just look at the map, bordering Iraq and Syria, and the only ally that borders that part of the world. And Turkey has been enormously important in our joint efforts to fight ISIS, stanch. We have been able to liberate, in the US-led coalition to defeat ISIS, all the territory that ISIS controlled just a few months ago, and more than eight million people that were under ISIS control. And we have done that, not least, by using infrastructure bases in Turkey. So, in the fight against ISIS, Turkey has played a key role. Then, many allies have expressed their concern about Turkish-NATO operation into North Syria. But formerly in the agreement between the United Sates and Turkey, when Vice President Pence went to Ankara, we have seen that Turkey has stalled its NATO operations in Northeast Syria. And we have seen a significant reduction in violence. And now we have to build on that, and try to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria. Let me also add on the question about Europe and North America. Yes, there are differences, as there has always been. Dating back to the Suez Crisis in ’56 all the way to the Iraq War in 2003. So, it’s nothing new that 29 allies have different views on many different things: trade, climate change, and other things. But, again, the strength of NATO is that despite these differences, we have proven again and again able to unite around our core cause to protect and defend each other, and that’s exactly what we are doing now. We are doing more together, North America and Europe, than we’ve done for many decades. So, the paradox is that despite so much, I say, some political differences, we always are able to agree and unite around our core cause to stay together.
And I will say this. Three weeks ago when we got al-Baghdadi, Turkey was very helpful. We flew over areas that were totally controlled by Turkey and the Turkish Military. We said we’re coming. They absolutely were very supportive, actually. We didn’t tell them what we were doing, and where we were going. Turkey could not have been nicer, could not have been more supportive. And that’s important. And I wanted to say that in keeping the oil, ISIS was trying to, as you know, regain control of the oil. And we have total control of the oil. And, frankly, we had a lot of support from a lot of different people. But right now the only soldiers we have, essentially, in that area are the soldiers keeping the oil. So, we have the oil and we can do with the oil what we want.
[Reporter] But Turkey bought Russian missiles. How is that being on the side of the US?
Well, they did and they tried to buy ours, and the Obama Administration said you can’t have them.
[Reporter] Would you give them to them?
The Obama Administration said you can’t have the Patriots. We’re not gonna sell them to you. And they said that a number of times, and then Turkey went out and bought the Russian missile. So, we’ll see what happens. We’re still talking about it, but they wanted to buy the Patriots. They tried to buy the Patriots. I think most of you know that. And they were shut off from buying the Patriots. They were not allowed to buy it. So, that put him in a bind also.
But the Russian system is not being integrated into the integrated NATO Air and Missile Defense Systems, because these Russian systems cannot work together with the rest of the NATO systems, of course. Well, in fact, there are talks going on between the United States and Turkey, looking into some alternative systems, Patriots. And also the fact that NATO, actually, augment. We have deployed, we augmented the Turkish Air and Missile Defense System today with the deployment of Patriot batteries by NATO in Turkey. So, we addressed this issue, and we tried to find a way to solve it, because it’s now creating some problems internally in the allies.
And, as you know, Turkey bought billions and billions, it was one of the largest orders of F-35s, which is the greatest fighter jet in the world. And all they’re gonna do now is go to another country, whether it’s Russia or China. They don’t want to do that. They want to buy the best plane. But they’re making it very difficult for, in a way, themselves. But they’re also making it difficult in Washington for them to buy that plane. But they want to buy, they have a very big order. They’ve already put up billions of dollars. They’ve given to Lockheed Martin.
[Reporters] Have you made a decision as to whether you’ll have counsel president featured in certain areas?
[Reporter] Have you made a decision as to whether you’ll have White House Counsel President featured in certain areas?
I’m not even thinking about it. I’m only thinking about this, the impeachment hoax is going nowhere. We have tremendous support. In the history of the Republican Party there has not been this support. We have 196 to nothing in terms of votes in the congress. And as far as I’m concerned, I hear the senate is angry about it. The Republican Senators are very angry about what’s going on, because they hurt our country. They’re hurting our country, the other side, very badly. We have tremendous support. Probably, the most united that our party has ever been. I just had a 95% approval rating. It’s the highest in the history of the Republican Party. Ronald Reagan was 87, he’s second. The party has never been this united, the Republican Party. The impeachment is going nowhere. It is a waste of time. They’re wasting they’re time. And it’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace to our country.
[Reporter] How will you convince the Republican Senators to agree that your contact with Ukraine was perfectly flawless, because a number of them, as you know, have been critical of your contact—
Well, that’s only the only people that are critical are people that haven’t read the conversation that I had. And in some cases, they haven’t read. Are you okay back there? What happened, are you getting into a fist fight or something?
[Reporters] He’s very critical. He’ll tell you what we were saying. What if you think you should run our senate?
No. I thought you had something you were going to say.
[Reporter] Back to your senate comment.
Okay. I thought they got into a little fist fight back there. That’s happened a couple of times with you people. No, I think the Republican Party is right now more united than they’ve ever been. When people read the I always say, read the transcript. I also say, take a look at what the president of Ukraine said. And he said it numerous times, including very powerfully yesterday, because that’s the only thing that really, that’s it. Then, you have people heard third-hand, fourth-hand, second-hand. Now, we have tremendous support in the Republican Party. There never has been support like this. In fact, I would always complain that the Democrats, I think, are lousy politicians with horrible policy: open borders, sanctuary cities, high taxes. They want to raise your taxes. But they’ve always stuck together, I respect that. And the Republicans, I’ve always said, have better policy, but historically they haven’t stuck together the same way. There has never been a time where the Republican Party has been more united. This is a witch hunt by the Democrats. It’s a continuation, it’s been going on now for three years. Actually, from before the election it’s been going on. You’ll probably see that after the reports released on Monday or Tuesday. But this is just a witch hunt that’s very bad for our country. But I’ll tell you it’s been very unifying for the Republicans and for my base.
[Reporter] A point of clarification. In your opening remarks, you were very critical of one country, but you didn’t name the country. What country were you talking about?
I’d rather have you guess. You’re a very good reporter. I’d rather have you guess. I’ll probably agree with your assumption.
[Reporter] Mr. President, would you like to see Secretary Pompeo run for senate in Kansas?
So, he’s a tremendous guy doing a tremendous job. And I would say this. If I thought we were going to lose that seat, because we shouldn’t lose that seat. It’s a great state. It’s a state that I won overwhelmingly, as you know. We shouldn’t lose that state. Then, I would sit down and talk to Mike. But you can never find anybody that can do a better job as secretary of state. But if we thought we were gonna lose that, I would have to talk to Mike. If you look at polling, Mike would walk away with that seat. If I thought there was a risk to losing that seat, I would say that I would sit down very seriously and talk to Mike, and find out how he feels about it. He loves what he’s doing. He’s doing a great job, as you know.
[Reporter] Could I ask you about NATO? Why is China such an important subject for this NATO Summit? What threat do they pose?
Well, China has become very powerful, and much more so than in the past. They’ve done it largely with United States’ money, because our past presidents allowed them to steal the cookie cutter. And that’s okay, I don’t begrudge China for that. I begrudge, I’m very disappointed in our past presidents and leadership. They allowed this to happen. There’s no way it should’ve happened. And, by the way, I’m doing very well on a deal with China, if I want to make it. If I want to make it. I don’t think it’s if they want to make it. It’s if I want to make it. And we’ll see what happens. But I’m doing very well, if I want to make a deal. I don’t know that I want to make. But you’re gonna find out pretty soon. We’ll surprise everybody.
But, as you know, historically NATO has been focused on the Soviet Union and Russia, so it’s something new that we now are also addressing the implications for our security by the rise of China. But we have to do that, because China is now the second-largest defense spender in the world, after the United States. They recently displayed a lot of new, advanced military weapon systems, including new intercontinental ballistic missiles able to reach the whole of Europe, the United States, hypersonic weapons, gliders. And they also deployed hundreds of intermediate-range missiles that would have violated the INF Treaty, if China had been part of that treaty. It’s not about moving NATO into the South China Sea, but it’s about taking into account the fact that China is coming closer to us. We see them in the Arctic. We see them in Africa. We see them investing heavily in European infrastructure. And, of course, we have China in cyberspace. So, the rise of China, there are some opportunities but also some challenges, and we need to face them together. And I think it’s a good thing that Europe and North America do that together, because together, North America and Europe, we are 50% of world GDP, and 50% of the world’s military might. So, as long as we are together, we are bigger and stronger than any other potential adversary.
And I think that’s important, because it’s a very different NATO. I mean, this has become I really think since I’ve joined, since I’ve come in, we have a very good relationship. This used to be a NATO on one country. They didn’t even talk about anything else. And, now, really we are looking at all over the world, ’cause the world changes. 70 years of this, it’s a long time. The world has changed a lot. And I don’t think frankly before us that NATO was changing at all with it. And NATO is changing right now, so it’s a different NATO. It’s covering a lot more territory. It’s covering hotspots. It’s covering a lot of things that were never even contemplated or thought of, even five years ago. If you go back five years, they wouldn’t even be thinking about the things that we’re doing now. And I’ve become a bigger fan of NATO, because they’ve been so flexible. If they weren’t flexible, I think I would probably be not so happy. But they are very flexible, and this gentlemen is doing a great job.
[Reporter] Are you still planning to come to Germany?
I will come to Germany, sure. Love Germany. Love the people of Germany.
[Reporter] Mr. President, has North Korea continued its nuclear program—
Well, we’ll see. I have confidence in him, I like him, he likes me. We have a good relationship, we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. He definitely likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him Rocket Man. But we have a very good relationship, and we’ll see what happens. It may work out, it may not, but in the meantime it’s been a long time. President Obama said, “It’s the number one problem, “and it would’ve been war.” You’d be in a war right now, if it weren’t for me. If I weren’t president, you’d be in a war right now in Asia, and who knows where that leads. That brings in a lot of other countries.