Senior European officials tell ABC News they're starting to see President Donald Trump as separate from the United States, and are instead focusing on the long history of partnership between the U.S. and Europe rather than his words, after he called the European Union a "foe" in an interview with CBS.
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European Council President Donald Tusk, taking the lead on this new interpretation of the EU-U.S. relationship, tweeted Sunday night, "America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news."
Trump does not follow Tusk on Twitter.
America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) July 15, 2018
One senior European official called it "shocking" and another called it "outrageous" to hear a U.S. president compare the relationship with the European Union to that of China and Russia.
At the same time, these officials admitted that if Trump is re-elected to a second term it will be a strong message from the American people that the U.S.'s relationship with Europe has significantly changed.
Even before Trump's "foe" comment, EU officials tell ABC News that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg privately told them, "Don't pay attention to the words, look to the deeds."
A senior NATO official noted that no policy was changed substantially at the NATO summit, and in fact many saw the final communique as a win.
That joint declaration, signed onto by all 29 NATO members and issued Wednesday, made no mention of any new funding commitments, as claimed by Trump in a press conference at the end of the summit. And the president’s declaration was also directly contradicted by one of his closest personal allies, French President Emanuel Macron.
"There is a communique that was published yesterday. It's very detailed," Macron said, according to the AP. "It confirms the goal of 2 percent by 2024. That's all."
Ahead of the Helsinki summit, European officials say they fear Trump more than Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Putin has a strategic line of confrontation with Europe, but with Trump we don't know what to expect, there is no line of thought," the European official said.
Tusk tweeted Monday morning his concerns that Trump will further rock the world order today at his meeting with Putin.
"Europe and China, America and Russia, today in Beijing and in Helsinki, are jointly responsible for improving the world order, not for destroying it. I hope this message reaches Helsinki," Tusk tweeted.
Europe and China, America and Russia, today in Beijing and in Helsinki, are jointly responsible for improving the world order, not for destroying it. I hope this message reaches Helsinki. https://t.co/whPzfDzcfW pic.twitter.com/QmzlvNkkac— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) July 16, 2018
Trump sparred with Stoltenberg at a breakfast on the first morning of the NATO summit, railing against German investment in Russian oil and calling for an increase in defense spending by NATO members.