President Donald Trump would describe his relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “fairly unbelievable,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday, after she made comments that were widely interpreted as criticizing the White House.
“I think the relationship that the president has had with Merkel he would describe as fairly unbelievable,” Spicer told reporters gathered for the first daily press briefing since Trump returned from his first trip overseas as president. “They get along very well. He has a lot respect for her.”
“They continue to grow the bond that they had during their talks in the G-7,” Spicer said, referring to a summit Trump attended with world leaders last week. “And he views not just Germany but the rest of Europe as an important American ally. During his conversations at NATO and at the G-7, the president reaffirmed the need to deepen and improve our transatlantic relationship.”
Merkel, whose worldview contrasts with Trump’s nationalism, made comments after the G-7 summit that were interpreted as casting doubt on the reliability of the U.S. as a partner to Europe under Trump’s leadership. She suggested that Europe needed to “really take our fate into our own hands” and said “the times in which we could rely fully on others — they are somewhat over.”
But on Tuesday, Spicer denied that the comments amounted to a slight of the White House. He said Germany wants to shoulder more responsibility on the world stage.
“That’s great,” Spicer said. “That’s what the president called for. He called for additional burden-sharing. The secretary general of NATO said that the president’s calls are what’s moving them in the right direction. The president is getting results, and more countries are stepping up their burden-sharing.”
“That is a good thing for them, it’s a good thing for NATO, and it’s a good thing for America,” Spicer said.