President Donald Trump took to social media to blast Germany, a key U.S. ally that he asserted was unfairly benefiting from trade and the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance. Trump's critique marks an escalation in tensions between his administration and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
On May 30, Trump took to Twitter to double down on his criticisms of Germany that he had vocalized during his foreign trip.
"We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military," the president posted. "Very bad for U.S. This will change."
Trump voiced his disapproval of German trade and NATO contributions during the Group of Seven NATO summit in Brussels and Taormina, Italy.
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On May 25, Trump sparked controversy in German media for allegedly telling European Officials in a closed door meeting that the "Germans are bad, very bad."
White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn clarified to reporters that the president was referring to Germany's trade practices.
"He said they're very bad on trade, but he doesn't have a problem with Germany," Cohn said, according to The Washington Times.
Trump also purportedly criticized the German auto industry during his meeting with EU officials.
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"Look at the millions of cars that they sell in the U.S.," Trump said of German car manufacturers. "Terrible. We're going to stop that."
The largest German factory in the world, a BMW plant, is located in South Carolina, according to Forbes.
Later that day, Trump publicly scolded the majority of NATO members, including Germany, for not spending enough on their militaries.
"23 of the 28 nations are still not paying what they should be paying for their defense... many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years," Trump said, flanked by NATO allies.
The president also declined to affirm the U.S. commitment to the NATO doctrine of mutual defense or the Paris Climate Agreement, two top priorities for Merkel. The German chancellor signaled her dissatisfaction with Trump as a reliable ally following the G-7 summit.
On May 28, Merkel stated during a campaign rally that Germany would have to take a more active role in world affairs.
"The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out," Merkel said, according to AFP. "I've experienced that in the last few days."
Research director Daniela Schwarzer of the German Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin asserted that Trump had alienated Germany and other U.S. allies during the G-7 summit.
"His rhetoric and actions suggest he does not consider it a priority to build good and engaging relations with allies the U.S. so far considered its most important ones," Schwarzer said.
Following Trump's tweet, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel acknowledged that the alliance between the U.S. and Germany was strained.
"It is true that we have a difficult situation in relations between the United States and Germany," Gabriel told reporters. "But the United States are older and bigger than the current conflict and so I think we will return to good relations in the future."
In 2009, former President Barack Obama also expressed dissatisfaction with the trade deficit between the U.S. and Germany, according to MarketWatch.
"It's not the Germans' fault that they make good products that the United States want to buy... But if you look overall, there's probably going to need to be a rebalancing of who's spending, who's saving, what are the overall trade patterns," Obama said during a press conference with Merkel.