President Trump told reporters Sunday that he has had “second thoughts” about his escalating trade war with China, but the White House insists that this should not be viewed as misgivings over imposing tariffs.
During a working breakfast with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Trump was asked if he had any regrets about recent developments.
“Yeah, sure, why not,” Trump admitted, but quickly added that he has “second thoughts about everything.” He also noted that “we’re getting along well right now with China.”
These statements come days after the U.S. and China hit each other with tariffs and Trump threatened to declare a national emergency that would result in American businesses freezing their relationships with China. Sunday morning, Trump said he has “no plans right now” to go through with this, but noted that a trade deficit with China and Chinese theft of American intellectual property were enough to justify an emergency.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham insisted that Trump’s “second thoughts” should not be read as regret for his tough stance — she, in fact, claimed it was the opposite.
“His answer as been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher,” she said in a statement.
Johnson, meanwhile, expressed his opposition to Trump’s recent tactics.
“Just to register a faint sheep-like note of our view on the trade war,” he told Trump, “We’re in favor of trade peace.”
The two leaders are in France for the Group of Seven summit, during which the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan were set to discuss foreign policy and security during their first meeting.
According to the White House, Trump added economic matters to the agenda as well, which could include talks of the tensions that arose Saturday when Trump threatened tariffs on French wine imports, and the European Union threatened action in response. Trump is also scheduled to lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron, where the two leaders are likely to discuss the matter.
Prior to Sunday morning’s breakfast, Trump denied reports that he faced tensions with the other G-7 nations, and blamed the media for wanting to cause a recession to hurt his chances at reelection.
“Before I arrived in France, the Fake and Disgusting News was saying that relations with the 6 other countries in the G-7 are very tense, and that the two days of meetings will be a disaster,” Trump tweeted. “Just like they are trying to force a Recession, they are trying to ‘will’ America into bad Economic time, the worse the better, anything to make my Election more difficult to win.”
Trump added that “we are having very good meetings, the Leaders are getting along very well and our Country, economically, is doing great — the talk of the world!”
To that end, Trump announced Sunday that the U.S. and Britain will work out a “very big trade deal” once the U.K. has left the European Union.
Trump also praised Johnson, who recently took office as prime minister, on Brexit, calling him “the right man for the job.”
The president appeared to slight former Prime Minister Theresa May – who he had frequently criticized – by adding that Johnson is “a new person.”
Sunday’s meeting was their first since Johnson succeeded May as prime minister in July.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.