President Donald Trump has stirred up unnecessary controversy in his trip abroad by referring to the nation of Germany as "very bad."
"The Germans are bad, very bad. See the millions of cars they sell in the U.S., terrible. We will stop this," Trump said, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who was present when Trump made these comments, told reporters in Sicily that the reports were being exaggerated.
"He did not say that the Germans were behaving badly," Juncker said. "He was not aggressive at all and anyway we have taken the defense of the Germans."
Juncker said that he made it clear to Trump "that the U.S. cannot compare their trade situation with individual member states of the European Union. They have to compare their performances with the global performances of the European Union and I made it clear that the commission is charged with trade issues and not the member states."
One of Trump's top economic policy advisers has also tried to clarify the president's comments.
"He said they’re very bad on trade, but he doesn’t have a problem with Germany," National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said during a meeting of G7 leaders in Italy. "I don’t have a problem Germany. I have a problem with German trade."
This isn't the first time that Trump has criticized Germany for its trade policies in the United States. Indeed, opposition to American free trade policy has been one of the few political issues on which Trump has held a consistent position over many years.