For many minutes on Monday, US President Donald Trump stood on foreign soil at the close of the Group of Seven summit here and trashed his predecessor. He bragged about his personal properties from the presidential podium, suggesting he will hold the next year's G-7 gathering at his Doral golf course in Florida, which has "incredible" conference rooms and "magnificent" bungalows.

And he defended both Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, suggesting the Russian strongman deserved an invite to future G-7 summits and that the North Korean dictator was an honorable man who would not let Trump down.

The US president's news conference here was presaged by an aide saying Trump would answer anything if the first two questions stayed on topic. Trump seemed more interested when the questions went off topic - and for 68 minutes in a seaside auditorium, he offered a lens into his unorthodox mind, a range of false or dubious statements and the myriad ways he has changed the presidency in 31 months.

He attacked former president Barack Obama's intellect while defending Putin for annexing part of Crimea - a move that drove Russia's expulsion from what was then called the G-8. To many world leaders, Putin's move was illegal and had nothing to do with Obama. To Trump, it showed his predecessor was a sucker and criticising him (along with former vice president "Sleepy Joe" Biden, in Trump's words) was fair banter. He veered into a similar diatribe on Obama not enforcing a "red line" in Syria, though he was not queried on the topic.

Trump attacked former US president Barack Obama, said he'd had calls from the Chinese and boasted about his properties during the press conference. Photo / AP
Trump attacked former US president Barack Obama, said he'd had calls from the Chinese and boasted about his properties during the press conference. Photo / AP

"President Putin outsmarted President Obama," Trump said, calling it "very embarrassing" for Obama. The realpolitik of the world, he said, meant Russia should be in the room at future summits. And he said he would like to invite Putin next year to his golf course, claiming without evidence that other leaders agreed with his predilection - even as they said otherwise.

Asked why he continued to falsely blame Obama for the annexation of Crimea, as he did almost a dozen times Monday, the president suggested he knew the black journalist asking the question, Yamiche Alcindor of PBS News, had an ulterior motive. "I know you like President Obama," he said, without saying how he knew that.

"I'm not blaming him," he said, before blaming him extensively because "a lot of bad things happened."

Trump admitted no blunder in his escalating trade fight with China, even as his flummoxing moves have rattled the markets and his own aides.

In four days, Trump imposed new tariffs on China, called the country's president an "enemy," admitted "second thoughts" on the escalating trade war, reversed course hours later to say he only wished he raised the tariffs higher and then vowed a deal would be coming soon - because China wants one desperately, in the president's telling. Doesn't that make it harder, a reporter asked, to make a deal?

"Sorry it's how I negotiate," he said. "It's been very successful over the years."

His assertion that China was itching to strike a compromise has been contradicted by multiple reports and Chinese officials. When Fox News reporter John Roberts expressed skepticism, Trump forged ahead by saying the Chinese had been working behind the scenes.

Trump claimed to have gotten two phone calls on Sunday night from high-ranking Chinese officials seeking to negotiate a trade deal. "High level calls," he said. Chinese government officials said Monday they were unaware of any such calls. When Trump asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to back him up, Mnuchin would only say there had been "communication," avoiding the word "call." The treasury secretary quickly interjected again Monday afternoon to add "communications."


Trump suggested that within weeks he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. "Now is that based on fact or based on gut? It's based on gut," he said. He added: "Maybe it works and maybe it doesn't. I say it all the time about everything."

While he said French President Emmanuel Macron asked his permission to invite Iran's foreign minister to the G-7, Macron said he simply "informed" Trump in advance of his plan and that it was Macron's idea alone.

At length, he boasted about his private properties. Trump refused to divest unlike many of his predecessors, and has profited from an influx of Republican fundraisers and other political events. Questioned about the propriety of profiting from the summit next year of world leaders, he batted down any concern.

"I don't want to make money," he said. "I don't care about making money."

His resort in Miami, he said, would make a terrific locale for the G-7 because of its bungalows, location to the airport, large ballrooms and substantial parking. "Biggest ballrooms in Florida," he said.

First lady Melania Trump has never met Kim Jong Un, although her husband says she has got to know the North Korean leader 'very well'. Photo / AP
First lady Melania Trump has never met Kim Jong Un, although her husband says she has got to know the North Korean leader 'very well'. Photo / AP

He offered an unproven claim, as he has done before, that the presidency has cost him US$3 billion to US$5 billion. He then moved on to praise his golf courses in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Seeming to change course, he moved into a soliloquy about the nomenclature of Europe.

"What's England? What's happening with England? They don't use it too much anymore," Trump says he told British prime minister Boris Johnson.

He described both Iran and North Korea in terms of their real estate potential, saying the countries would want to deal with Trump because they sit on valuable, or gentrifying, properties.

"A location that's a little rough neighbourhood," he said of Iran, in the middle of the war-torn Middle East. "But eventually it's going to be a beautiful neighbourhood."

He showed no concern that the North Korean dictator had broken UN sanctions by firing missiles, instead saying he would not personally disappoint Trump. In a long-winded answer, Trump nodded to Melania Trump and claimed she had gotten to know Kim Jong Un very well; the White House later acknowledged that Kim and the US first lady have never met.

He also jousted with journalists. When a French reporter charged at the podium without being called on, he pointed to Jim Acosta of CNN and grinned. "She's worse than you!," he said, before explaining that Melania Trump likes French wine. When Hallie Jackson, an NBC reporter stood up, President Trump said, "Here we go" before repeatedly telling her she would only get one question.

Even as he spent several days on Twitter decrying the "Fake and Disgusting News" for giving a "major case study of Fake News," he seemed much more enthused once Macron left the stage and he held forth alone.

"You can't say I don't give you access," he said.