Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived in Paris Friday night where world leaders are gathering to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the end of World War I.
Though the White House had previously stated the visit was intended to further solidify the U.S.-European alliance, immediately upon landing the president fired off an angry tweet directed at his host French President Emmanuel Macron.
“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia,” Trump tweeted. “Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!”
The president appeared to be referring to comments made by Macron in a radio interview earlier in the week, in which he called for a “true European army” intended to “protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.”
Macron cited Trump’s recent announcement he planned to pull the U.S. from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear forces treaty with Russia as evidence that Europeans should direct more focus on protecting their own security interests.
“We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign matter,” Macron said.
The position doesn’t exactly conflict with President Trump’s repeated past demands for U.S. allies to share more of the cost burden for their defense.
The trip comes as the White House looks to grapple with a new political reality of Democrats taking the House in Tuesday’s midterm elections and the fallout from the president’s sudden firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
While the president will hold meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron, a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday they do not anticipate the president scheduling any additional meetings with world leaders invited to Paris, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The president told reporters Wednesday that he would not be holding an extended meeting Putin before the G-20 summit later this month in South America, though said he won’t be surprised if the two interact during the leaders’ luncheon at the Elysee Palace on Sunday.
The primary purpose of the president’s visit, according to the administration official, will be attending ceremonies around the centennial commemoration of the end of World War I.
“This is a historic opportunity to honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for our freedom in that struggle,” the official said.
But upon leaving Washington, the president seemed eager to renew focus on the controversies ignited over the past week, lashing out at reporters as they pressed him on stories like his firing of Sessions, the suspension of a CNN correspondent’s press pass, and the Florida Senate and gubernatorial races now both likely heading to recounts.
Once on board Air Force One, the president shot out a tweet threatening to send a team of lawyers to Florida to counter what he claimed were partisan efforts by Democratic lawyers to change the vote counts.
Trump also sought to parallel the controversy to Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, saying sarcastically, “Let’s blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!”
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