President Donald Trump launched a scathing new broadside Tuesday against a onetime friend, French President Emmanuel Macron, who, after denouncing nationalism in a speech this weekend, appears to have been relegated to a long list of Trump’s global adversaries.
Trump’s messages, which began before dawn, came a day after he returned from a peculiar and controversy-laden trip to Paris. The President appeared out of sorts with the dozens of world leaders gathered in the French capital for an armistice centenary ceremony. A canceled event at an American cemetery because of rain marred the visit.
During his speech at the armistice ceremony on Sunday, held in rain underneath the Arc de Triomphe, Macron issued a rebuke against nationalism, saying it was the opposite of patriotism. It was viewed widely as a reprimand of Trump, who proudly embraces the “nationalist” title.
Trump, who some advisers described as sullen during the 44-hour trip, did not respond immediately to Macron’s remarks. Listening to the speech through an earpiece, he remained stone-faced. But on Tuesday, his enmity spilled out.
“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%,” Trump wrote, citing figures indicating political trouble for the French leader.
“He was just trying to get onto another subject,” Trump went on. “By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!”
“MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!” he said.
The messages were fresh indication that Trump’s close friendship with Macron is over. Once his top global partner, Trump has soured on Macron – 32 years his junior – over the course of the past months. The two men have found themselves at odds on climate change, trade and Iran – but perhaps most notably they have diverged on the idea of nationalism and its dangers.
Macron’s office declined to comment on Trump’s string of tweets on Tuesday. But the French ambassador in Washington, Gérard Araud, tweeted that Trump was citing “erroneous press reports” in his criticism of the European military cooperation.
Macron has warned against old ideologies becoming resurgent, including during his United Nations address last month and in interviews. He defeated an avowed nationalist candidate, Marine Le Pen, during elections last year.
“I know there are old demons which are coming back to the surface. They are ready to wreak chaos and death,” he said on Sunday. “History sometimes threatens to take its sinister course once again.”
Immediately after touching down in Paris on Sunday, the President tweeted his indignation at recent comments Macron made about bolstering European security cooperation, misrepresenting Macron’s call for Western self-reliance. Trump was referring to remarks Macon made last week in which the French President called for a “real European army” and said the European Union has to “protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.”
A senior French official said at the time that Trump took Macron’s words out “out of context” and clarified the language Macron used, saying that the French leader did not mean he wanted a European army but better coordination and funding of Europe’s already-existing resources.
Following a meeting with Trump, Macron was able to explain a “misunderstanding” about the European force and the two put the matter to rest, a French presidential spokesman said over the weekend.
But on Tuesday it was evident the matter had not been resolved.
“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia,” Trump wrote early in the morning. “But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two - How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”
He didn’t stop there. The President went on to raise the prospects of applying tariffs on French wine.
“On Trade, France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S. The problem is that France makes it very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France, and charges big Tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small Tariffs. Not fair, must change!” he wrote.
And he sought to explain that canceled cemetery visit, which drew sharp criticism and accusations of laziness.
“By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving,” he wrote. “Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown. Speech next day at American Cemetary in pouring rain! Little reported-Fake News!”