Praise for Turkish Erdogan as Trump calls French Macron's NATO comments 'insulting'

London (CNN) President Donald Trump launched an outspoken attack on French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of their meeting later Tuesday in London, calling his recent comments on the alliance "very nasty" and "insulting."

But Trump also railed against the alliance, complaining that the US pays "a disproportionate amount," and that the US is the country that benefits least from NATO membership.

Trump's remarks highlighted the widening fissures within NATO as leaders gather in the British capital to celebrate the alliance's 70th anniversary. Last month, Macron said it is suffering from "brain death" because of US indifference. He cited the fact NATO was not informed of members recent actions in northern Syria, pointing to the US' sudden exit from the area and Turkey's incursion into the area with Russia's help.

"When France makes a statement like they did about NATO, it's a very dangerous statement to make," Trump said Tuesday morning as he made remarks and took questions ahead of a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"I do see France breaking off (from NATO). I'm looking at him and I'm saying he needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off, so I'm a little surprised at that," Trump added.

Trump's comments criticizing Macron follow a Monday evening announcement in which US trade officials proposed tariffs of roughly $2.4 billion on French goods. The tariffs would be in retaliation against France's tax on digital services, which US officials said will become a trade barrier for American tech companies such as Facebook and Google.

Despite expressing his frustrations over Macron's comments and making the tariff threats, Trump maintained that he's "always had a good relationship with Emmanuel."

"Sometimes he'll say things that he shouldn't say and I disagree with some of his policies with respect to France, but he's gotta do what he's gotta do and sometimes I think he does things that are counterproductive for his own country," he added.

Praise for Erdogan

The President appeared to side with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his actions in Syria, saying that the country was "very helpful" with the raid to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He added that Turkey "could not have been nicer, could not have been more supportive."

"I like Turkey and I get along very well with the President ... I would hope that he's a very good member of NATO," Trump said, adding that he may meet with Erdogan, though a bilateral meeting has not been announced.

The President was also asked about ongoing trade deal talks with China. Though a preliminary agreement was due to have been signed now, Trump said that now, he thinks it may be better to wait to after the election to make a trade deal. He wouldn't tell reporters if there was a deadline for negotiations.

"I don't know that I want to make it but you're going to find out pretty soon. We'll surprise everybody," Trump said.

The President also appeared to be preoccupied by his political troubles at home as Democrats ramp up the pressure in their impeachment inquiry.

Trump was asked whether he'd made a decision as to whether to have counsel present at future impeachment hearings. He said, "I'm not even thinking about it. I'm only thinking about this." He also called impeachment a "waste of time."

"I think it's very unpatriotic of the Democrats," Trump said of the impeachment process. "I think it's a bad thing for our country. Impeachment wasn't supposed to be used that way."

Trump began his Tuesday with the Stoltenberg meeting at the US ambassador's residence. He is also meeting with supporters at a private fundraiser, which is expected to raise $3 million according to the Trump campaign, before holding meetings with Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In the evening, Trump will have tea with Prince Charles, followed by an evening reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen. He'll then head to 10 Downing Street for a leaders' reception hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Trump said Tuesday that he planned to meet with Johnson, but would "stay out of" weighing in on the upcoming UK election -- before saying he's a fan of Brexit and Johnson.
"I have no thoughts on it. It's going to be a very important election for this great country, but I have no thoughts on it," Trump said, before noting that Johnson "is very capable and he will do a good job."

CNN's Betsy Klein, Luke McGee, Nicole Gaouette, Ryan Browne, Greg Clary and Sarah Westwood contributed to this report.

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