Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

German minister hits back at Trump

German minister hits back at Trump

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that the British government made it clear to Spicer that the "ridiculous" claims should be ignored.

Merkel's words for Trump have not been as harsh - she's a fucking adult after all - but her statement congratulating the president after his victory in November threw subtle shade for those who read between the lines.

Despite the rising cry for evidence and top U.S. Senators refusing to acknowledge the existence of any such wiretapping, Trump refused to disown claims, that British intelligence tapped his phones following a request by President Barack Obama past year.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and other prominent leaders - including all four top-ranking members of the two intelligence committees - have announced in Congress that they had no evidence that Trump Tower was wiretapped. Trump said many countries owe "vast sums of money" but he declined to identify Germany as one of the nations.

In a frequently awkward joint press conference in the East Room, Trump and Merkel showed little common ground as they addressed a host of thorny issues including North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, defense spending and free trade deals.

Germany's history with its military makes defense spending a particularly complicated issue. "The United States will respect historic institutions and we will also recognise the right of free people to manage their own destiny", Trump said.

Mr. Trump, who's spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, tweeted that he had a "great" meeting with Merkel despite some reports that he implied suggested otherwise. "That is the spirit I think in which we ought to be guided in negotiating any agreement between the United States of America and the European Union", she said.

What we found is that Trump is misunderstanding how NATO's joint defense is paid for, and that Germany doesn't owe anything.

But jokes aside, there were several moments in the press conference that were serious attempts to pin down the president on his global worldview, and where Chancellor Merkel stood in position to that. As a rule, Merkel doesn't react to the written statements of other foreign leaders, a strategy that has served her well with such a Twitter-inclined president in Washington.

She has a reputation as being cool and conservative, the former physicist who leads Europe's strongest economy. He has, for example, heavily criticized Merkel's decision to allow hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany, a move that is a key issue in her re-election race this year.

The jab was a reference to reports in 2013 that the National Security Agency, under President Barack Obama, had been intercepting Merkel's phone calls and spying on German officials.

Clare Jeffery, the editor-in-chief of Mother Jones, said they were getting "far better reviews than the USA 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".

Along those lines, observers hoping Merkel will deliver a pointed message to Mr. Trump - or that she'll focus the visit on defending the liberal world order she represents - are likely to be disappointed.

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