A whole lot of shit has spewed forth from Trump’s mouth over the last two years, but what he said in Brussels ranks right up there with the worst of them.

President Trump on Thursday attended a meeting with European Union leaders in Brussels, where he apparently decided to air his grievances over Germany’s trade surplus with the U.S. “The Germans are evil, very evil,” Trump reportedly complained in the meeting, attendees told German newspaper Der Spiegel. “Look at the millions of cars they sell in the U.S. We’ll stop that.”

“Evil, very evil.” 

Do you suppose he even understands the history he is invoking with that comment? Does he understand that this is not 1940?

Or, if you are in a charitable mood, you can go with Maggie Haberman’s thesis that maybe the translation is a bit harsh:

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The story seems to originate with Der Spiegel, which quotes him saying “Die Deutschen sind böse, sehr böse.”

I don’t speak German, so I’m not one to judge whether it says evil or bad.

The Cambridge German-to-English dictionary defines bose as “angry, bad, black, evil, nasty, sore.”

But evil or bad, Trump seems determined to intentionally disrespect European leaders — from shoving aside the president of Montenegro to grousing about their defense spending. And he seems to hold Germany in particular contempt — a position which puts him in perfect alignment with Putin.

Just getting Trump to actually attend the meeting with the EU was considered a success, however. Trump did not extend an invitation for EU leaders to visit the White House. 

Of course he didn’t.

And what about that threat to halt German auto sales in the United States?

Has he bothered to consider that there are German auto plants in the United States that employ tens of thousands of Americans?

Does he realize, for instance, that there is a huge Mercedes assembly plant in Vance, Alabama? Or a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga? Or that BMW build cars in South Carolina? Or that just last year a German auto supplier announced a $38 million investment in a plant near Montgomery, Alabama?

Is he going to shut all those facilities down?

Of course not. He’s pulling all of this out of his ass. He doesn’t have a clue what he is saying or doing. All he knows is parroting the Moscow line.

UPDATE: I notice that there is a very intense debate over the translation into German and then back into English of what Trump said. As someone who spent many years in journalism, I can appreciate all the subtleties discussed. The debate is over whether he said “bad” or “evil.” Since the author of the Der Speigel article now says it is bad, I have changed the headline to reflect that. 

But, really, it doesn’t change a thing about Trump’s total cluelessness or his bull-in-a-china-shop approach to foreign policy.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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