President Donald Trump is considering moving 2,000 American troops from Germany to Poland. On Wednesday, he explained that his reasoning for doing so was because he simply liked Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife.
Trump made the comments Wednesday during a joint Rose Garden press conference with Duda, who has pushed to dismantle his country’s independent judiciary, promoted Holocaust denial, and launched an assault on the free press.
The press conference came one day after U.S. military officials said they were planning to send “1,000 additional troops and a squadron of Reaper drones,” ostensibly to avert further Russian aggression, according to The Military Times and Associated Press.
When a Polish reporter asked the American president why he believed the alliance between the two countries was so important, Trump said, “I just like Poland.”
“I just have a very warm feeling for Poland. I always have,” Trump said. “And it’s now even beyond that, because of the relationship, which we’ve developed with your president and first lady. And it’s just — they’re very — they’re incredible people. Hardworking, smart. Very industrious people. And what they’ve done with the country over the last five years has been something that the world has watched and the world has marveled at. I’ve just liked Poland.”
Trump then said that he was considering moving more troops to Poland because the Dudas were nice.
“So when the president came and asked me whether or not we would consider this, I said ‘I will consider it.’ And now because of his leadership, we’re able to do that. And that’s fine with me. That’s great. Great people.”
Trump concluded his answer by telling the reporter to “say hello” to the people of Poland on his behalf.
The United States currently has 4,000 troops in Poland. The decision to send more troops to Poland from Germany, which has around 50,000 U.S. troops, was first floated back in February.
At the time, the U.S. ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, stopped just shy of saying the United States would establish a permanent military base in the region, but said the Pentagon believed sending more troops would allow for more flexible, rotational deployment.
“The Department of Defense sees [the forces of the 21st century] as … more agile, more rotating, rather than where you have physical hospitals and homes and you bring your families,” he told The Financial Times then. “But in terms of a presence that is undeniable and a large number of American troops here, that’s a given.”
Earlier on Wednesday, during an Oval Office press conference with Duda, Trump said he felt bad for Poland, which he said was often stuck in the middle of regional conflicts. He said he hoped Russia would “treat Poland with respect.”
“They get hurt unfortunately too often,” Trump said. “They’re in the middle of everything. When bad things happen it seems like Poland is the first one…I hope that Russia and Poland and Germany are going to get along.”
Trump has a history of praising the Polish for being hardworking: In 1998, he infamously settled a class-action suit filed on behalf of a crew of Polish construction workers who had worked on Trump Tower in the 1980s. The workers testified that they had been made to work 12-hour shifts without hard-hats or protective gear as they helped demolish the structure that stood where the new building would eventually stand.
The settlement, worth $1.375 million, followed more than 15 years of litigation over unfair labor practices.
According to The New York Times, a foreman who testified in that case recalled Trump once marveling over the foreman’s undocumented Polish employees, saying, “Those Polish guys are good, hard workers.”
This article has been updated to include background information on Trump’s 1998 settlement with a crew of Polish construction workers.