Donald Trump says China, Russia and EU are all ‘foes’ ahead of meeting with Vladimir Putin
Trump has said he may ask Putin to send to the US those Russians who hacked Democrats during the election – but National Security Adviser John Bolton said Trump would not demand ‘deliverables’ during the ‘unstructured’ meeting
US President Donald Trump on Sunday named Russia, the EU and China as “foes”, in an interview aired on the eve of his summit with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
“Well I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade,” Trump said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
“Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union but they’re a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe.
“But that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive,” he said in the interview with CBS Evening News’s Jeff Glor, which was conducted on Saturday.
Earlier, Trump said that he may ask Vladimir Putin during their meeting to extradite to the US 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of attempting to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
In the interview, the US president also sought to temper expectations about how much could be achieved.
Asked whether he would press Putin to send to the US members of the Russian military intelligence agency accused of hacking Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, he said it had not occurred to him.
“Well, I might,” he said. “I hadn’t thought of that. But I certainly, I’ll be asking about it, but again, this was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration.”
However, in an interview on ABC’s This Week, National Security Adviser John Bolton said that the meeting with Putin would be “unstructured” and that Trump would not demand “deliverables”.
”The president can put this on the table and say this is a serious matter, we need to talk about it,” Bolton said of the hacking, but added that Russia would likely not do anything about it, since the US and Russia do not have an extradition agreement.
“For the president to demand something that isn’t going to happen puts the president in a weak position,” he said.
In his interview, Trump added his Republican Party had also been the target of Russian hacking efforts but had superior cybersecurity measures in place.
“I think the DNC [Democratic National Committee] should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked,” he said.
“They had bad defences and they were able to be hacked. But I heard they were trying to hack the Republicans too. But – and this may be wrong – but they had much stronger defences.”
CNN reported in January last year that then-FBI director James Comey told a Senate panel that “old emails” of the Republican National Committee had been the target of hacking – but the material was not publicly released – and there was no sign the current RNC or the Trump campaign had been successfully hacked.
The two presidents have shared personal bonhomie in the past, but beyond the alleged hacking of the US election, their countries are deeply divided on a host of other issues including Syria and Ukraine.
Before coming to Europe, Trump predicted his meeting with Putin could be the “easiest” stage of a tour that included stops in Brussels and Britain.
But he told CBS that he was going into it with “low expectations”.
“I’m not going with high expectations,” he said.
Trump also defended his decision to hold the meeting after coming under fire from opposition Democrats in the wake of the indictments.
“I think it’s a good thing to meet,” he said. “I believe that having a meeting with Chairman Kim was a good thing. I think having meetings with the president of China was a very good thing.
“I believe it’s really good. So having meetings with Russia, China, North Korea, I believe in it. Nothing bad is going to come out of it, and maybe some good will come out.”
An excerpt of the interview aired on Sunday while the rest will be broadcast on Monday.
Meanwhile, in Helsinki, more than 2,000 people protested on Sunday as the city prepares to host the summit.
In a festive atmosphere and warm sunshine, slogans and chants were directed at both presidents, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, a day ahead of their meeting in Finland’s capital.
“Helsinki calling for human rights,” read the banner at the head of the march, which culminated in a rally in the city’s central Senate Square.
Police said 2,000-2,500 people attended. There was no figure immediately available from organisers.
“Whiny demented man-baby meets evil master spy. What could go wrong?” read another banner made by a Finnish woman.
Kira Vorlick, an American woman aged 30 who works in Finland’s booming mobile game industry, said she left California a year ago “to get away from” Trump.
“After the indictment of the Russian agents, he should not have met with Putin,” she added.
The crowd repeated a refrain heard at many anti-Trump protests including one that drew tens of thousands to London as the president visited Britain last week: “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!”
But in Helsinki, which lies close to the Russian border, there was plenty of heat on Putin too.
Another Finnish man, who works as an elderly-care nurse, held a sign in both English and Russian saying “Putin prison for lifetime”.
He declined to give his name for fear of being targeted by some of Helsinki’s many Russian residents.
“Putin’s such a troublemaker and he is our neighbour, unfortunately. He’s scary for us and for the Baltic states,” he said. “He’s been spreading fear in Britain too, in Salisbury. He’s a madman.”