Trump Today: President softens stance toward May, trade pact with U.K.
A day after a blockbuster interview was published in which he put into question the possibility of a trade deal and praised the rival of Prime Minister Theresa May, President Donald Trump on Friday talked up his relationship with her and said such a pact could come off.
BREXIT, NATO AND PUTIN AT JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE
Next to May, Trump softened the stance he took in an interview with The Sun, in which he said a soft Brexit would “probably kill the deal.”
“The only thing I ask of Theresa is that we make sure that we can trade, that we don’t have any restrictions because we want to trade with the U.K.,” he said in a joint press conference. “I read reports where that won’t be possible, but I believe after speaking with the prime minister’s people and representatives and trade experts, it will absolutely be possible.”
He did praise May’s rival Boris Johnson, who resigned from the cabinet, but also offered praise for May. “I think she’s a terrific woman and doing a good job, and that Brexit is a tough deal between the borders and the entries into the countries, and all of the things,” he said.
Trump said that he apologized to May for the interview. “I said I want to apologize because I said such good things about you. And she said, ‘don’t worry, it’s only the press.’ I thought that was very professional.”
Trump discussed at length the issue of defense spending by NATO countries. “It was testy at the beginning, but at the end, everybody came together and agreed what they should do and actually what they’ve committed to do,” he said.
See external link to transcript of Trump-May press conference.
Trump was asked about whether there was a benefit to having U.S. troops stationed overseas. “There’s a psychological benefit, and there’s a military benefit. There’s also a benefit not to do it. I was prepared to do things that would have been somewhat harsh yesterday. A lot of people were surprised that NATO all came together at the end, but — and it wasn’t a threat, I mean, it was just an unfair situation.”
As for his upcoming talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said topics will include Ukraine, Syria and nuclear proliferation. “I know you’ll ask, ‘Will we be talking about meddling?’, and I will absolutely bring that up,” he added.
Trump’s remarks about meddling came before 12 Russian military intelligence officers were indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for hacking into Democratic Party computers. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he told Trump about the indictment before the president left for his European tour.
Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's Washington bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter @MKTWgoldstein.
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