An ever-defiant President Donald Trump on Friday doubled down on his claim that Barack Obama’s administration tapped his phones, telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel the duo might both be victims of Obama-led spying.
US Republican presidential contender Donald Trump said German Chancellor Angela Merkel was wrong to let in thousands of migrants into Germany and that the refugee crisis could trigger revolutions and even the end of Europe.
Trump said that he “very seldom” regrets his tweets, then turned to Merkel and said that with the wiretapping claim he made, maybe the two of them had something in common after all.
It was a story in Breitbart – the far-right website once run by his senior adviser Steve Bannon – that appeared to spark Trump’s March 4 tweets accusing Obama of wiretapping the NY skyscraper where he lived and ran his presidential campaign.
Comments like that have prompted some of Trump’s fiercest critics to declare Merkel the new “leader of the free world” – a moniker normally taken up by the occupant of the White House.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department has delivered documents to the House and Senate investigators relevant to Trump’s allegations that Obama wiretapped him.
“We’re proud that we have good products, just as the Americans are proud that they have good products”, Merkel said. Trump backed Britain’s departure from the European Union and has expressed skepticism of multilateral trade agreements. Trump said many countries owe “vast sums of money” but he declined to identify Germany as one of the nations.
On Thursday, spokesman Sean Spicer turned to a Fox News analyst’s contention that GCHQ, the British electronic intelligence agency, had helped Mr Obama wiretap Mr Trump. “I’m saying, right now there are many countries that have not fulfilled their obligations to us”.
On March 19, Germany’s biggest-selling daily Bild said that throughout the White House meeting, not once did Trump look her in the eye.
“I think that the United States will continue to be an active and productive member of the worldwide trade community”, said Benno Bunse, director of Germany Trade and Invest, a government agency that promotes German business.
In a photo op after their Oval Office meeting, the two leaders sat next to each other in separate chairs.
But both sides are likely to try to move on from past tensions.
Clare Jeffery, the editor-in-chief of Mother Jones, said they were getting “far better reviews than the United States press corps” and Jeremy Diamond, CNN’s White House reporter tweeted “Good on our German colleagues for asking POTUS about wiretapping claims after 2 reporters Trump called on did not”.
“That includes a modern North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but also a European defense union as well as investments into the United Nations”, she said.
Trump’s order banning citizens of some majority-Muslim countries from entering the US and a threat to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement have also unnerved business leaders.