NATO summit 2019: Disputes overshadow anniversary meeting

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8:43 a.m. ET, December 4, 2019

Trump calls Trudeau "two-faced" after viral video

President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau talk before a NATO round table meeting on Wednesday. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP
President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau talk before a NATO round table meeting on Wednesday. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP

The US President did not mince his words when asked about footage of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apparently making jokes at his expense went viral overnight.

Trump's first public reaction showed he was unhappy with that video surfacing, responding to a reporter's question by calling Trudeau "two-faced."

"He's two-faced," Trump said, adding "honestly with Trudeau he's a nice guy."

Trump continued: "The truth is I called him out on the fact that he's not paying 2% and I guess he's not very happy about it," Trump said adding "he should be paying 2% and that Canada "has money."

"I can imagine he's not that happy but that's the way it is.

Watch the moment below:

8:28 a.m. ET, December 4, 2019

Trump praises Turkey intervention in Syria

President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan step onto a stage during the NATO leaders meeting on Wednesday. Photo: Francisco Seco/AP
President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan step onto a stage during the NATO leaders meeting on Wednesday. Photo: Francisco Seco/AP

The US President praised Turkey’s intervention in Syria Wednesday.

“The border and the safe zone is working out very well and I give Turkey a lot of credit for that. The ceasefire is holding," Trump said.

He was responding to a question at the NATO summit about his meeting with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sent troops into Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria after Trump withdrew US forces.

“It was a very good meeting. We discussed Syria. We discussed the Kurds,” Trump said.

“That border is a mess for a long time,” he said, adding: “We have soldiers where the oil is and that’s the way I like it.”

8:19 a.m. ET, December 4, 2019

Happening now: Trump speaks while meeting Merkel as NATO Secretary General gives press conference

The US President is speaking to reporters as he sits down for a bilat with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Separately, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is simultaneously addressing the media at a press conference.

7:57 a.m. ET, December 4, 2019

Happening soon: Trump meets Merkel

US President Donald Trump will shortly sit down for a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trump and Merkel have long butted heads over a number of issues, and notably, Trump has pressed Germany to contribute more to defense spending as part of its commitment to NATO. Last month, Germany said it would reach the 2% spending target by 2031 -- seven years past NATO's goal date.

During last year's summit, Merkel hit back at Trump's claim that "Germany is a captive of Russia" by drawing on her own upbringing in Soviet-controlled East Germany, saying that she's "very happy that we are today unified in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany."

7:45 a.m. ET, December 4, 2019

UK PM unable to attend 2%-ers lunch with Trump

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Boris Johnson will not be attending this afternoon's lunch with Trump and other NATO 2%-ers, CNN's Betsy Klein reports.

Trump's working lunch on Wednesday is only for NATO countries who are fulfilling their 2% defense commitment. The UK foreign minister will attend the luncheon in Johnson's place, who has other NATO commitments, Klein adds. 

Also expected at the meal are representatives form Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Bulgaria.

Separately, more details of Trump's meeting with Johnson at Downing Street on Tuesday evening were revealed today.

A readout from deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said the leaders "affirmed the importance of the Special Relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States and discussed their priorities ahead of today’s NATO Leaders Meeting."

The pair also spoke about trade and security, according to the readout.

7:14 a.m. ET, December 4, 2019

Fact-checking Trump's claims at NATO meeting so far

President Trump held official meetings with two foreign leaders and the head of NATO at the alliance summit Tuesday -- turning the public portion of each sessions into his own highly dishonest impromptu press conference.

Trump treated NATO Secretary General Jens StoltenbergFrench President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to a selection of his favorite fictions, most of which we have fact-checked before, and sprinkled in some new nonsense for good measure.

Our initial count: Speaking to reporters for more than two hours in total, Trump made at least 21 false claims. The total may well grow once we have time to do some deeper fact-checking.

Trump made false claims about NATO while sitting with Stoltenberg, and false claims about Europe while sitting with Macron. Both know the truth -- and Macron fact-checked one of Trump's claims to his face. But Trump was, as ever, undeterred.

Trump repeatedly said, for example, that NATO members are "delinquent" for failing to meet the alliance's guideline of having each member spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on defense. The guideline does not impose binding financial obligations or debts, and NATO's 2014 agreement says that members will work to meet the target within a decade, not that they must hit it immediately.

Here's the list so far:

6:41 a.m. ET, December 4, 2019

What to watch out for later

NATO heads of state attend the plenary session of the NATO summit on Wednesday. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images
NATO heads of state attend the plenary session of the NATO summit on Wednesday. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

World leaders are now in a closed-door session for the next hour or so. But here's a look at what's coming up for the US President.

He is scheduled to hold meetings Wednesday with:

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen
  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

He's also expected to take part in a working lunch with representatives of Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria and the UK.

One of the big talking points from yesterday was that fact that despite no official press conferences being scheduled, Trump spoke to reporters for more than two hours. However, the President is expected to give a press conference before flying back to Washington later.

6:12 a.m. ET, December 4, 2019

World leaders overheard apparently joking about Trump

Trump's timekeeping appears to be a topic of conversation throughout this summit.

Footage from last night's reception is also drawing attention on Wednesday morning as it seems to show several foreign leaders discussing the President's lengthy press conferences on Tuesday.

In a 25-second clip, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte appear to share a laugh over Trump's behavior.

Microphones nearby only pick up snippets of the conversations, which starts with Johnson asking Macron why he was late.

Macron's response is inaudible but he can be seen nodding as Trudeau says, "He was late because he takes a ... 40-minute press conference at the top."

While Trump was not mentioned by name, he is the only leader to have held a presser for that length of time, according to CNN's Special Events team covering the summit.

CNN has reached out to representatives for all the leaders who were part of the conversation.

When asked if the leaders were talking about Trump, a spokesperson for Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told CNN on Wednesday they do not comment on closed door sessions. A Elysee Palace spokeswoman declined to comment, adding, "This video does not say anything special.” Meanwhile, a spokesman for Trudeau told CNN they have no comment at this time. 

The White House has also declined to comment. 

None of the leaders seemed to be aware that the conversation was being recorded, although they were talking openly and loudly enough to be heard by others. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation first reported on the footage.

6:07 a.m. ET, December 4, 2019

Johnson invokes "The Three Musketeers" in call for NATO unity

Prime Minister Johnson speaks at the plenary session of the NATO summit on Wednesday. Photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images
Prime Minister Johnson speaks at the plenary session of the NATO summit on Wednesday. Photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images

In a brief statement before the start of a meeting of the North Atlantic Council on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pressed NATO leaders to remain united amid tensions in the alliance.

He said he was "delighted to welcome everybody here to the United Kingdom to celebrate the 70th anniversary of NATO" and that seven decades on "we are rock solid in our commitments to NATO and to the giant shield of solidarity that now protects 29 countries and nearly a billion people."

Johnson spoke of the principle at the heart of the alliance saying "that for as long as we stand together, no one can hope to defeat us -- and therefore no one will start a war.

"This essential principle is enshrined in article five of the North Atlantic treaty: that if any one of us is attacked, all of us will go to their defense," he added.

Then, perhaps taking inspiration from the famous line from "The Three Musketeers" by French author Alexandre Dumas, Johnson continued, "If NATO has a motto, it is 'one for all, and all for one.'"

The UK PM also said, "As friends and allies, we must never shy away from discussing new realities, particularly NATO's response to emerging threats like hybrid warfare and disruptive technologies, including space and cyber. At this council, we have the opportunity to strengthen the unity of purpose that has made NATO the greatest and most successful alliance in history."