President Trump told top European Union leaders that “the Germans are bad, very bad” during a closed-door meeting in Brussels, according to a report.
The President was referring to the country’s trade surplus with the United States, a person who attended the hour-long meeting told Der Spiegel newspaper.
Trump’s comments came during a NATO summit in Belgium he’s attending during his first overseas trip as President.
The meeting attendant quoted Trump as saying, “Look at the millions of cars they sell in the USA. Terrible. We will stop that.”
E.U. Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker allegedly stood up for Germany during the meeting, sources told the newspaper.
European attendees believed U.S. officials were ill-informed because the E.U. negotiates trade deals with America as a whole, not on a country-to-country basis, according to German news reports.
The commander-in-chief has previously railed against Germany over how many cars it sells stateside.
Just days before he was sworn in, Trump vowed to impose a 35% border tax on imported German cars.
“If you want to build cars in the world, then I wish you all the best,” Trump told the German-language Bild newspaper in January. “You can build cars for the United States, but for every car that comes to the USA, you will pay 35 percent tax.”
But companies including BMW and Mercedes-Benz already have manufacturing plants in the U.S. and ship cars made there to Europe and Asia.
Roughly 850,000 German vehicles are made in the U.S., Reuters reported in January, and some 33,000 people are employed by the country’s car companies.
American drivers bought over 1.3 million cars from German companies in 2016, while Germans purchased about half a million American cars, according to past reports.
Trump hasn’t had the best relationship with Germany since taking office.
He had an icy meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he’s criticized for taking in Syrian refugees, at the White House in March.
During a photo opportunity, he seemingly ignored a handshake request from Merkel.