PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday his phone calls with U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders are like sausages — it’s better not to reveal the contents.
During a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Macron was asked about a CNN report on Monday saying that a phone call between him and Trump last week had been “terrible.”
Borrowing a quote from the 19th-century Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck, Macron summed up his policy of refraining from making off-the-record comments about his conversations with other world leaders.
“As Bismarck used to say, if we explained to people how sausages were made, it’s unlikely they’d keep eating them,” Macron told reporters. “So I like it when people see the finished meal, but I’m not convinced the kitchen commentary helps with delivering the meal or eating it.”
A readout from the French presidency of Macron’s call with Trump last week said he had told Trump that the decision to slap tariffs on the exports of U.S. allies was both “illegal” and a “mistake.”
The shorter White House readout of the call said the conversation had focused on trade and immigration, without elaborating.
“Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind, based on the relationship. But Trump can’t handle being criticized like that,” CNN quoted an unidentified source as saying. “Just bad. It was terrible.”
Macron, appalled by the frequent off-the-record comments to journalists by his predecessor, Francois Hollande, has kept the media at a distance since his election last year and has banned his aides from giving behind-the-scenes accounts.
“You can go and ask the people who make comments, but here in Paris we don’t make comments on how it went, or how hot, cold, warm or terrible things are. We just go ahead and do things,” Macron said.
He added that he would have a “useful” and “frank” exchange with Trump at the next G7 summit in Canada on Thursday and Friday about issues on which they agree and also those on which they disagree.