Trump calls Brexit 'great,' slams Germany's migrant policy
U.S. president-elect also proposes tying end of Russian sanctions to nuclear arms reduction
U.S. president-elect Donald Trump says Britain's decision to leave the European Union will "end up being a great thing," and he's predicting that the EU will continue to break apart.
The incoming president made the comments in a dual interview with The Times of London and Germany's Bild newspaper, published on Sunday. Trump is set to take office on Friday.
During the hour-long discussion, Trump said the U.K. is "so smart in getting out" of the EU, which he described as "basically a vehicle for Germany."
He said he likes and respects German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but he called her immigration policy a "very bad mistake."
"I think she made one very catastrophic mistake, and that was taking all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from," he said.
People 'angry' over migrant policy
"And nobody even knows where they come from. So I think she made a catastrophic mistake, very bad mistake."
He said Europeans are upset about an influx in immigrants and "want their own identity." He predicted that other countries would leave the European Union as well.
"I think it's gonna be very hard to keep it together, because people are angry about it," Trump said.
Trump indicated he doesn't care whether the EU stays together. His position marks a break from the Obama administration, which encouraged Britain to remain in the EU.
On trade issues, he said if the German automaker BMW goes ahead with plans to build cars in Mexico and then sell them in the United States, he'll slap a 35 per cent import tariff on the vehicles.
United Europe 'doesn't matter to him'
German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk reported Monday on some of the reaction in Germany to Trump's comments.
The U.S. president-elect consistently keeps his focus on America, not seeing the West as including Europe — or seeing the West as "non-existent in his thinking," said Norbert Rottgen, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the German parliament.
"Whether the European Union is divided or contested doesn't matter to him, whether NATO is there or not, doesn't matter to him. It's obsolete to him anyway," Rottgen told Deutschlandfunk.
'Nuclear weapons should be way down'
Another topic for the wide-ranging Times-Bild interview was Russia and reducing nuclear arms.
Trump said he would propose offering to end sanctions imposed on Russia for its annexation of Crimea in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal.
Trump also said he wanted nuclear weapons arsenals of the world's two biggest nuclear powers —the United States and Russia — to be "reduced very substantially."
"They have sanctions on Russia — let's see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that's part of it," Trump was quoted by the newspaper.
On the Middle East, he confirmed that he would appoint Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, to broker a Mideast peace deal and urged Britain to veto any new UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel.
Health-care insurance 'for everybody'
In a separate interview published Sunday night in the Washington Post, Trump said his plan to replace his country's health-care law will include "insurance for everybody."
"We're going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us," he said of his incoming administration.
Trump declined to reveal any details.
An embrace of something akin to universal health care would mark a sharp break for most Republicans who are pushing to repeal and replace the current health-care law.
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The U.S. House Republicans won passage last Friday of a measure starting the process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, despite concerns about not having a ready replacement and the potential financial cost of repealing the law.
With the vote, Republicans began delivering on their promise to end Obamacare, also a campaign pledge of Trump, who has called the program a "disaster."
A full repeal without an immediate replacement would strip health care insurance from millions of Americans.
Trump told the Post the new plan is nearly finished and will have "much lower deductibles," without elaborating.
Lashing out at former CIA director
With his inauguration just days away, Trump is continuing to lash out at critics in the intelligence community and Democrats in Congress who are vowing to skip his swearing-in ceremony.
The tough-talking Republican questioned whether the CIA director himself was "the leaker of fake news" in a Sunday night tweet.
Thank you to Bob Woodward who said, "That is a garbage document...it never should have been presented...Trump's right to be upset (angry)...—@realDonaldTrump
about that...Those Intelligence chiefs made a mistake here, & when people make mistakes, they should APOLOGIZE." Media should also apologize—@realDonaldTrump
.<a href="https://twitter.com/FoxNews">@FoxNews</a> "Outgoing CIA Chief, John Brennan, blasts Pres-Elect Trump on Russia threat. Does not fully understand." Oh really, couldn't do...—@realDonaldTrump
much worse - just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?—@realDonaldTrump
The extraordinary criticism from the incoming president came hours after CIA chief John Brennan charged that Trump lacks a full understanding of the threat Moscow poses to the United States, delivering a public lecture to the president-elect that further highlighted the bitter state of Trump's relations with American intelligence agencies.
"Now that he's going to have an opportunity to do something for our national security as opposed to talking and tweeting, he's going to have tremendous responsibility to make sure that U.S. and national security interests are protected," Brennan said on "Fox News Sunday," warning that the president-elect's impulsivity could be dangerous.
With files from CBC and Reuters