President Trump began the last leg of his foreign trip Friday beating back a report that he said Germany was “very bad” for flooding the U.S. with automobiles.
A top aide had to clarify that Mr. Trump “doesn’t have a problem with Germany.”
Mr. Trump’s relationship with Germany has been strained from the start. During the campaign he criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for doing a “terrible job,” and they’ve clashed over refugees and NATO payments.
As he met with world leaders in Taormina, Italy, he was hounded by reporters about a Der Spiegel report that he said: “The Germans are bad, very bad.”
He reportedly said it a day earlier in Brussels while meeting with European Union leaders.
Mr. Trump did not respond to reporters questions about the remark when meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in advance of a G-7 summit.
Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser, later told reporters that the comment was directed only at the trade issue.
“He said they’re very bad on trade, but he doesn’t have a problem with Germany,” Mr. Cohn said. “He said his dad is from Germany. He said: ‘I don’t have a problem with Germany, I have a problem with German trade.’ “