Trump also berated a German reporter who asked Merkel about Trump’s “isolationism” and then asked the president why he was “scared of adversity in the news.”
“Nice friendly reporter,” he said sarcastically. “I am a trader, I am a fair trader, a trader that wants to see good for everybody worldwide, but I'm not an isolationist by any stretch of the imagination, so I don't know what newspaper you're reading, so I guess that would be another example of fake news.”
If the goal of the press conference was to present some sort of unified face on trade, however, that didn’t happen. Merkel offered a platitudinous plea for a “win-win” solution, but Trump was more interested in grievance and competition. “I would say that the negotiators for Germany have done a far better job than the United States but hopefully we can even it out,” he said.
American reporters were more interested in finding out about the state of the Republican Party’s attempt to repeal Obamacare. Trump has put his weight behind the bill and met with members of the conservative Republican Study Committee to try to make the case for the bill. The bill looks tenuous at best, beset by criticism from moderate and conservative Republicans alike, but Trump promised a happy ending.
“In the end we’re going to have a great health-care plan,” Trump said, but he didn’t say how, preferring to dwell on the existing law. “Obamacare will fail. It will fold. it will close up very, very soon if something isn't done. I've often said politically the best thing I can do is absolutely nothing. Wait one year and then even the Democrats will say, ‘Please, please, you gotta help us.’”
But Trump offered no indications on what changes were going to be made to the bill to bring more votes into the fold.
During the press conference, the American journalist Mark Halperin asked Merkel a question about whether she thought Trump’s “different style” than past president was good for the world. The chancellor gamely tried to answer.
“For Germany I can say, well people are different, people have different abilities, different traits of character, have different origins, have found their way into politics along different pathways,” she said through a translator. “Which, well, that is diversity, which is good! Sometimes it’s difficult to find compromises, but that’s what we’ve been elected for.”
The fact that Merkel had to work hard to say something diplomatic in response to such a softball question said a great deal about the press conference. But give the chancellor credit for effort—Trump didn’t even bother to try diplomacy.