Cohn explains Trump jab at Germany

National Economic Council Director Gary CohnGary David CohnHow Biden should sell his infrastructure bill On The Money: Wall Street zeros in on Georgia runoffs | Seven states sue regulator over 'true lender' rule on interest rates | 2021 deficit on track to reach .3 trillion Former Trump economic aide Gary Cohn joins IBM MORE on Friday clarified President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania ​​Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors Iran thinks it has the upper hand in Vienna — here's why it doesn't MORE’s recent remark that “the Germans are bad, very bad.”

“[Trump] said they’re very bad on trade,” Cohn said in Sicily, Italy, according to Bloomberg. “He said, ‘I don’t have a problem [with] Germany. I have a problem with German trade.’”

Der Spiegel on Thursday reported that Trump voiced significant displeasure with Berlin during a NATO summit in Brussels.

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“The Germans are bad, very bad,” he said, according to meeting participants. “See the millions of cars they are selling to the U.S. Terrible. We will stop this.”

The president has repeatedly criticized global trade deals, arguing that they favor foreign nations at the expense of U.S. workers.

Trump also voiced frustration with Germany’s trade surplus during his 2016 presidential bid, vowing to slap punitive tariffs on German automobiles during an interview with Bild.

“I would tell BMW if they think they’re gonna build a plant in Mexico and sell cars in the U.S. without a 35 percent tax, it’s not gonna happen,” he told the German publication before his January inauguration. “It’s not gonna happen."

Several German auto manufacturers, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz, have production plants in the U.S., primarily in the South.