by Will Racke
President Donald Trump on Saturday offered harsh words for the people he holds responsible for U.S. trade deficits — past American leaders.
Speaking at a press briefing at the G7 summit, Trump blamed a generation of U.S. politicians for making deals that have led to large deficits with America’s most important trading partners.
“I blame our past leaders for allowing this to happen,” Trump said, adding that his immediate predecessor, former President Barack Obama, was just one in a long line of presidents who have supposedly led the U.S. astray on trade.
Trump’s address to the media came after meetings with the leaders of the group of seven large economies — the U.S. plus Canada, France, Britain, Italy, Germany and Japan — in Quebec on Friday. This year’s summit has been marked by deep discord over the Trump administration’s recent actions on trade, which include protectionist measures against not just China, but also the G7 nations and other key trading partners such as Mexico.
Ahead of the summit, Trump announced the U.S. would not exempt Canada, Japan and the EU from heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The move outraged foreign leaders, who denounced Trump’s use of national security to justify the tariffs and threatened retaliatory measures against U.S. goods.
Tensions remained high on Friday and into the weekend, as Trump reiterated a list of trade grievances against the G7 partners before leaving the summit early for a highly anticipated meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. But Trump struck a conciliatory tone in his parting remarks, saying that past American leaders were to blame for U.S. trade deficits, not the G7 heads of state.
“In fact, I congratulate the leaders of other countries for crazily being able to make these trade deals,” Trump said, adding that “those days are over.”
WATCH the full exchange:
President @realDonaldTrump: "Who are you with out of curiosity?"
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 9, 2018
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Will Racke is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Will on Twitter.