President Donald Trump addressed a number of issues in a joint news conference with Sweden’s prime minister Tuesday at the White House, in his first face-to-face meeting with a European leader since announcing major tariffs on aluminum and steel last week.
With Prime Minister Stefan Löfven standing next to him, Trump said U.S. trade with the European Union has been extremely unfair, and he accused the EU of making it difficult for American companies to do business there.
“The European Union has been particularly tough on the United States; they make it nearly impossible to do business with them ... if they do that, we’ll put a big 25 percent tax on their cars,” Trump said.
The president emphasized the importance of steel and aluminum production to the United States, saying it’s essential for defense and only a fraction of what it once was.
Löfven responded, blaming China for the glut of steel and aluminum in the world market and driving down demand in the United States. He also suggested the way to handle the imbalance was through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a trade program with Asian nations that former President Barack Obama supported, but that Republicans opposed.
Trump also addressed the concern about a trade war with close U.S. trading partners, Canada and Mexico.
“If we can do a deal with Canada and Mexico, we won't need to impose tariffs. With other countries, we don't have that choice,” he said, referring to negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
He also addressed recent news reports that the White House is in a perpetual state of chaos, saying “it’s a great place to work” with “great energy.”
“So many people want to come work for me … Everybody wants to work for me,” he said.
“I like conflict. I like people with different points of view and then I make a decision.”
The president also answered a question on the impact of Russian hacking on the 2016 presidential election and whether the U.S. voting system is safe from continued Russian interference
“The Russians had no impact whatsoever on our votes,” he said. “But, certainly there was meddling.”
Trump insisted he wasn’t worried about meddling in the upcoming mid-term elections and said the United States is taking action to make sure of that.
"We'll counteract whatever they do."