President Donald Trump speaks on trade at Granite City Works Steel Coil Warehouse, Thursday, July 26, 2018, Granite City, Ill. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Latest: In Illinois, Trump defends his treatment of NATO

July 26, 2018 - 2:07 pm

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

4:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is defending his treatment of NATO allies at a summit earlier this month and is blaming the media for mischaracterizing it.

Trump told steelworkers in Granite City, Illinois, on Thursday that it's wrong to suggest he was too tough on members of the decades-old military alliance and too nice to Russia during his European trip.

Trump maintains that NATO is "better for Europe than it is for us." But he argues he strengthened the alliance by forcing members to commit to higher defense spending.

During the summit, Trump was widely criticized, even by fellow Republicans, for suggesting he saw little value in the alliance and for failing to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for interfering in the 2016 election.

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3:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is lamenting decades of U.S. trade policy as he addresses steel workers in Illinois.

Trump tells workers gathered at U.S. Steel's Granite City Works' Steel Coil Warehouse that other countries were able to target U.S. workers and companies and steal U.S. intellectual property.

He says past leaders allowed the U.S. trade deficit to balloon and complains: "They surrendered."

He says, "If you don't have steel, you don't have a country."

Trump has taken aggressive action on trade, slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. That has prompted retaliatory action from countries that farmers and others worry will hurt their bottom lines.

Trump is also expected to tour Granite City Works' Hot Strip Mill before returning to Washington on Thursday evening.

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3:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is celebrating a U.S. steel company's decision re-employ hundreds of laid-off workers at a mill outside St. Louis.

Trump says he's in Granite City, Illinois, on Thursday "to celebrate a victory."

U.S. Steel has credited Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports for its decision in March to fire up a local furnace that had sat idle for more than two years. Trump is highlighting the company's action as an example of how his "America First" economic policies are benefiting U.S. workers.

He says workers are back on the job in Illinois after years of shutdowns and cutbacks. He says, "We are once again pouring new American steel into the spine of our country."

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1:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is claiming a trade breakthrough with European allies as he visits Iowa, a state where farmers are suffering under tariffs imposed by China in retaliation for Trump's protectionist policies.

Trump tells an audience at Northeast Iowa Community College that, "We just opened up Europe for you."

He says farmers will now have access to a big, new market and he is taking credit for the change.

The comments come a day after Trump's meeting with European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (zhahn-KLOHD' YUN'-kur). The U.S. and EU agreed to open talks to tear down trade barriers, and Trump said the EU agreed to buy more soybeans from American farmers.

Trump has enacted tariffs that have been criticized by farmers and manufacturers who warn a global trade war and retaliatory tariffs from countries like China, Mexico and Canada will damage their livelihoods.

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1:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation to reauthorize a program that provides money for job training and related programs for students.

That's according to his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, who is with him at a workforce development event in Dubuque, Iowa.

Congress last authorized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act in 2006. Lawmakers passed the bill Wednesday.

Ivanka Trump says it will help 11 million students and workers across the country acquire the technical skills they need to thrive in an increasingly digital economy.

She says it will be "transformative" for education across the country.

After she said Trump will sign the measure into law next week, he joked: "Unless I don't sign it. Maybe I'll veto it."

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