Donald Trump congratulated a Croatian journalist on his country’s victory over England in the World Cup and reiterated his claim to being a “very stable genius” during a wide-ranging press conference at Nato headquarters.
Questioned by a reporter from a Croatian daily newspaper, Mr Trump quickly interjected to say: “Congratulations, by the way, the soccer.”
It comes just hours before the US president is to visit Britain and meet the Queen and Theresa May, and follows heartbreak for England after they were knocked out of the World Cup on Wednesday night.
The Croatian journalist then asked whether, while Mr Trump’s message had been clear – that he was pleased more countries had agreed to increase defence spending – he would later make contradictory statements on Twitter after boarding Air Force One.
“No, that’s other people that do that,” the billionaire joked. He added, with a smile: “I don’t, I’m very consistent. I’m a very stable genius.”
Mr Trump has frequently used his Twitter account to advance views that contradicted the statements of his cabinet and even his own.
The president’s knowing recall of the now-infamous “stable genius” phrase appeared to acknowledge the notoriety it gained when he was forced to defend his mental capacity earlier this year.
Mr Trump attacked the “fake news media” following a string of stories reporting the concerns of mental health professionals who broke industry guidelines by proffering diagnoses in public.
He said that “throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart”. His achievements in business, television and politics qualified him as “not smart, but genius, and a very stable genius at that”, he added.
“Stable genius” thus joined “fake news” and ”alternative facts”, coined by adviser Kellyanne Conway in 2017, in the list of terms irretrievably associated with the Trump presidency.
During the press conference in Brussels, Mr Trump said he had extracted new financial commitments from other Nato members totalling billions of dollars, meaning more countries would spend the required 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence.
But he declined to be drawn on the precise timetable for when that target would be achieved.
“I have no doubt ... they will be up to 2 per cent over a relatively short period of years,” Mr Trump said when asked specifically about Canada and Germany. Both countries spent 1.2 per cent of their GDP on the military in 2017, World Bank data showed.
Mr Trump said he wanted the standard contribution to rise to 4 per cent at some point in the future.
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