Cohn explains Trump jab at Germany

National Economic Council Director Gary CohnGary David CohnOn The Money: Senate rejects border declaration in rebuke to Trump | Dems press Mnuchin on Trump tax returns | Waters says Wells Fargo should fire its CEO Gary Cohn says Trump trade adviser the only economist in world who believes in tariffs Hillicon Valley: Google takes heat at privacy hearing | 2020 Dems to debate 'monopoly power' | GOP rips net neutrality bill | Warren throws down gauntlet over big tech | New scrutiny for Trump over AT&T merger MORE on Friday clarified President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report 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.