- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2018

President Trump said meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin would be easier than visits with allies, ahead of leaving for his European tour.

“So I have NATO, I have the UK that’s a situation with turmoil and I have Putin,” Mr. Trump told reporters before leaving the White House, “Frankly, Putin may be the easiest one of all. Who would think?”

The president did not say whether not he trusted the Russian leader.

“I really can’t say right now. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a competitor,” he said, according to a pool report, “I think that getting along with Russia, getting along with China, is a good thing.”

Mr. Trump voiced concern about the NATO summit and London visit, the two other stops on his trip to Europe.

For NATO he doubled down on his previous arguments about other member states taking advantage of the U.S. by not contributing more to the budget.

“We do have a lot of allies. But we cannot be taken advantage of. We’re being taken advantage of by the European Union. We spend 75% on NATO and frankly, it helps them more than it helps us.”

He defended former UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who he called a friend, and said he planned on speaking with him during the visit.

Mr. Johnson resigned from his post on Monday.

When asked if Prime Minister Theresa May should be replaced, Mr. Trump said, “Well that’s up to the people. I get along with her very well. That’s certainly up to the people.”

According to a White House pool report, the president will arrive in Brussels in about eight hours. 

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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