President Donald Trump wrapped his short trip to Canada extolling his relationship with the G7 countries as a 10 out of 10, and blasting reports of rifts between the U.S. and world as nothing more than “fake news.”
In a freewheeling news conference at the G7 summit in La Malbaie, Trump defended his contentious case for bringing Russia back to an expanded G8, and he riffed again on what he said are unfair trade deficits with his country.
He blamed past world leaders, including past presidents, for that situation, but said the current crew — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — now know that the “gig is up.”
Trump’s tirade came before he was to leave for Singapore for his historic summit with the North Korean leader North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. He will miss the climate session of the G7 summit.
When a CNN reporter asked Trump to respond to a question about whether he had sowed division in the G7 in what many have described as a G6-plus-one scenario, the president excoriated the reporter for perpetuating “fake news.”
He said he gets along well with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Trudeau.
“I would say that the level of relationship is a 10. We have a great relationship. Angela and Emmanuel and Justin. I would say the relationship is a 10,” Trump said.
He said the trade deficits that the U.S. faces “with virtually every country in the world” is the fault of past leaders.
“I’m going back a long way. You can go back 50 years frankly. It just got worse and worse and worse.”
READ MORE: Trump wants Russia invited back to G7
Trump said he doesn’t blame the current leaders, but he had a sharp warning for them if they don’t work with him to correct what he sees as an unfair situation.
“I will blame them if they don’t act smart and do what they have to do because they have no choice,” he said.
“They understand that. They know it. When I’m telling them, they’re smiling at me. You know, it’s like the gig is up.”
Trump reiterated that Russia should be re-invited back into the G7 because a G8 would be more meaningful.
“I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in. I think it would be good for the world, I think it would be good for Russia, I think it would be good for the United States, I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7,” Trump said.
“We’re looking for peace in the world, we’re not looking to play games.”
Canada has flatly rejected welcoming Russia back to the G7 fold, pointing to its annexation of Crimea.
On Friday, European Council President Donald Tusk said Trump’s criticism of the international rules-based order is “playing into the hands of those who seek a new post-West order where liberal democracy and fundamental freedoms would cease to exist.”
On Canada, Trump repeated criticism of Canadian dairy but says he wants to make a deal on NAFTA, with two different types of sunset clauses — a stumbling block for Canada in the past.
And he said his recent imposition of punishing steel and aluminum tariffs was based on legitimate national security concerns, rebuffing the concerns of allies.
“Let’s say Canada, where we have tremendous tariffs. The United States pays enormous tariffs on dairy. As an example, 270 per cent, nobody knows that.”
Pierre Lampron, the president of Dairy Farmers of Canada, shot back at Trump’s claims about his industry.
“President Trump is targeting the dairy sector because he wants to dump U.S. dairy into Canada,” Lampron told The Canadian Press, adding that Canada imports five times more dairy from the U.S. than it exports.
“President Trump wants nothing less than wiping out Canadian dairy farming.”
The other G7 leaders will meet without Trump for the rest of the day, discussing climate change and international development.
Trudeau has his closing press conference this afternoon.
Andy Blatchford and Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press