French President Emmanuel Macron hosts Donald Trump at lunch, Biarritz, France, August 24, 2019 (Getty)
Donald Trump behaves himself at the G7 summit in France, but US officials publicly and privately criticize the hosts ahead of Sunday’s main meetings.
Trump, whose Friday rant on Twitter included the raising of tariffs on China and labeling of Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell as an “enemy”, praised French President Emmanuel Macron after their Saturday lunch in Biarritz in southern France. He said they had “a special relationship” and had “been friends for a long time”.
France and President @EmmanuelMacron have done a really great job thus far with a very important G-7. Lunch with Emmanuel was the best meeting we have yet had. Likewise, evening meeting with World Leaders went very well. Progress being made!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2019
But Administration officials were far from cordial, complaining that Trump was not being given center stage to declare US economic success.
The officials framed the criticism as a focus by the French on “niche issues” than a global economic challenges. facing their nations. They said the agenda played to Macron’s domestic audience by emphasizing climate change, income and gender equality, and African development.
On the eve of the summit, Macron highlighted the fires across the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, calling for international action to check the damage of man-made climate change. Trump refused to join pressure on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over the deforestation causing the fires, instead praising Bolsonaro: “Our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever before.”
Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, grumbled in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, “France, this year’s host, wants the Group of 7 to stay silent on these core economic issues.” He accused Paris of “politically correct bromides” as “trade and the global economy have gotten short shrift”.
Macron said that he will not seek a joint communiqué at the end of the summit, given Trump’s opposition to any mention of climate change.
At last year’s G7 in Canada, Trump reportedly sulked and refused to join constructive discussion. As he departed on Air Force One, he berated host Justin Trudeau for mentioning US sanctions, with his officials saying a “special place in hell” was reserved for the Canadian Prime Minister.
“Fake and Disgusting News”
The administration’s plan to feature Trump as the leader of a surging US economy, setting an example for the rest of the world, had been rocked in the past two weeks by signs of a downturn and even a recession.
On August 14, the US bond market had an “inverted yield curve” for the first time since the 2008 Great Recession. The rare event, in which interest rates on short-term bonds are higher than those on long-term counterparts, has been an inevitable signal of recession in the past 50 years. The “red light” sent the stock market to its worst day of 2019, with a 3% drop in value.
Consumer confidence is at its lowest point since January, and economic indicators — amid Trump’s trade wars and an unprecedented Federal Government debt of more than $1 trillion per year — at their lowest level since late 2016.
Unsettled and angry, Trump has been erratic on Twitter, repeatedly berating the Federal Reserve’s Powell for not cutting interest rates and denouncing the media for “Fake News”.
On Sunday morning, he launched another tirade:
….bad Economic times, the worse the better, anything to make my Election more difficult to win. Well, we are having very good meetings, the Leaders are getting along very well, and our Country, economically, is doing great – the talk of the world!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2019
Trump signed off, “Leaving now to have breakfast with Boris J.”, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
However, the expected show of amity between the two leaders — Trump’s advisors helped Johnson in his quest to become Britain’s leader — took a turn on Saturday. The Prime Minister, without naming Trump, criticized the trade war with China and called for the removal of tariffs.
Trump did not respond to Johnson’s statement.