According to the Sunday Times, members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and Prince William, refused to meet with President Donald Trump and his wife Melania during their stop-over in London.
The report states that the family left it to Queen Elizabeth II to meet and greet the American president while everyonek else avoided Trump who is highly unpopular in the United Kingdom.
According to a “well-placed sources” at Buckingham Palace, the two princes avoidance of Trump’ “was a snub,” with a source saying they “simply refused to attend.”
The Times went on to quote a Whitehall official who explained that Trump’s visit with the Queen was “kept to a bare minimum,” and that other members of the royal family “were not as enthusiastic as they were when Obama came over.”
Trump wants the best of everything whether there will ever be used or not
For all that Donald Trump is often described as “erratic” or “unpredictable,” the basic worldview underlying his foreign policy is pretty consistent and easy to understand: He doesn’t think the U.S. should be expending resources on any initiative that he believes “helps other countries a hell of a lot more than it helps us,” as he once said in reference to U.S. troop deployments in the Middle East. Don’t talk to him about international stability or global order. Other countries’ conflicts are not our problem, and there’s little we can do to solve them anyway.
It’s this thinking that guides his opposition to maintaining U.S. troops and military exercises in South Korea and continuing combat operations in Syria and Afghanistan. To this end, the president has spent the week so far hammering other members of NATO for spending too little on defense and free-riding on U.S. security guarantees. Trump probably doesn’t actually care that much about the specific 2 percent spending target that’s become such a flashpoint, but it’s a useful cudgel to bash an alliance that, in Trump’s view, “helps them a lot more than it helps us.”
So it was a little mind-blowing to hear Trump end his press conference in Brussels this morning by contradicting all of that. The answer came in response to what was, in fairness, a somewhat difficult-to-understand question from a Tunisian journalist about what the U.S. could do to help resolve conflicts in North Africa. Trump seemed to take it as a question about “Africa” as a whole (my emphasis):
We are looking for peace. Africa, as you know, is on our very strong list. But we are looking for peace. We want peace all over. We want to solve problems. We’re looking for peace. Africa right now has got problems that few people would understand. They have things going on there that nobody could believe in this room. If you see, some of the things I see through intelligence, what’s going on in Africa, it is so sad and so vicious and violent. And we want peace. We want peace for Africa. We want peace all over the world. That’s my number one goal, peace all over the world. And we’re building up a tremendous military because I really believe through strength you get peace. But, we’re going to have a military like we have never had before. We have given out orders for, you know, the best fighter jets in the world. The best ships, the best everything. But, hopefully we will never have to use them. That would be a dream. To buy the best stuff, to have the best stuff, to have the best equipment in the world, and to never have to use it would be a really great part of my dream.
Put aside for the moment that the president, who described some African nations as “shithole countries” in January, has reduced an entire highly diverse and varied continent to a monolith of violence and despair. (And what “very strong list” is he talking about?) What jumps out here is that Trump has spent the entire past week repeatedly arguing that the U.S.
is spending too much on countries that should be helping themselves, and is now saying that the purpose of having a strong U.S. military is to “solve problems” and bring peace to the “vicious and violent” conflicts of Africa. Sending the military overseas to solve conflicts is precisely what he has repeatedly argued the U.S. should not be doing anymore.
Perhaps Trump was just ad-libbing at the end of a long press conference following a long meeting. Regardless, if this becomes a regular feature of his rhetoric, nothing coming from him will make any sense anymore.
The president spoke to reporters on the south lawn of the White House on Tuesday morning, before boarding Marine One to begin his trip to Europe, which will begin with a Nato summit in Brussels.
He repeated familiar criticism of Nato and spoke warmly of Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary and Brexit leader who resigned from the government of Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday. Trump said Johnson had been “very nice” and “very supportive”.
“It’s going to be an interesting time in the UK and certainly an interesting time with Nato,” Trump said, over the noise of the helicopter. “Nato has not treated us fairly but I think we’ll work something out. We pay far too much and they pay far too little. But we will work it out and all countries will be happy.”
“So I have Nato, I have the UK which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly Putin may be the easiest of them all, who would think. Who would think. But the UK certainly has a lot of things going on.”
“I have not, no I have not,” he said. “Boris Johnson’s a friend of mine, he’s been very nice to me, very supportive and maybe I’ll speak to him when I get over there. I like Boris Johnson, I’ve always liked him.
Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt said President Donald Trumpis “going to back the truck over” Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, who is under criminal investigation by New York prosecutors for his financial dealings.
Cohen spoke out in an interview with ABC News that aired Monday morning, in which he hinted that he would cooperate with investigators, telling George Stephanopoulos that he puts loyalty to “family and country” before Trump.
Trump is clearly worried about the prospect of Cohen flipping. He tweeted back in April that “most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!”
He also called Cohen “a fine person with a wonderful family.”
Fox News anchor Sandra Smith read Trump’s comments on air Monday morning, and turned to Stirewalt for reaction.
“They’re still going to back the truck over him,” Stirewalt said. “Whether he’s a nice person with a fine family or not, the president’s still going to back the truck over him.”
In Cohen’s ABC interview, Stephanopoulos asked what he would do if Trump and his legal team “come after him.”
“I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy,” Cohen replied. “I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way.”
As US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin prepare to meet in Helsinki, Finland in two weeks, a former top UK government official said their summit could further strain the United States’ relationship with its Western allies.
“It makes the US a less reliable partner for Western countries like my own,” former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday.
Osborne, now the editor of the Evening Standard, appeared on “Fareed Zakaria GPS” with Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s ex press maven, where the two men weighed in on the relationship between the US and Russia and what it means for the Western alliance.
Zakaria noted that the location of the Trump-Putin meeting is “an interesting choice,” given that the historic Helsinki Accords was signed there. That 1975 agreement was reached by the United States, Canada, and almost every European country to solidify the post-World War II order in Europe and reduce tensions between the Western and Soviet blocs.
“Of course, the atmospherics drives the media agenda, all of which points to a sort of disintegration of Western unity,” Osborne said.
He added that there were some “bigger trends” happening before Trump took office, noting that “America was withdrawing a bit from the world before Trump arrived.”
“There are new rising powers like, of course, China and a more resurgent Russia. And so how much is the froth of Trump’s Twitter feed, and how much is big macro forces happening in the world, I think is debatable. The one thing I’d say is Trump’s not doing anything to counter those forces; he is accelerating them,” he said.
Campbell, a writer and strategist who was former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s communications director, said he believes that Trump is “jealous” of Putin.
“I think he does believe in the strongman view of leadership. I don’t think he does like institutions. I think it’s about him, and he’s a narcissist, it’s all about him. And I think he looks at Putin, he thinks there’s a guy who controls his own parliament, doesn’t have dissent, controls his media, basically has far more power than the size of his country and his economy might indicate, and he wants to be like that,” Campbell told Zakaria.
“Added to which, I think Putin gets away with a lot more and I think Trump would like to get away with a lot more. So I think he … thinks, all these international bodies, ‘They’re a check on me,'” he said.
“Alastair and I both worked in Downing Street, and you had a pretty good idea that the United States president had your back. He wasn’t always going to agree with what Britain or France or whatever wanted, but you knew ultimately you were close allies and friends,” he told Zakaria.
“I think the problem for any European leader is (that) you just don’t know what the response is going to be when you need America’s help,” he said.
With rising tension over Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy, PAUL CONNEW says the Republicans are moving to drop the president for the next election.
Donald Trump once boasted to me he’d staged more comebacks than Frank Sinatra. Indeed The Donald came as close to worshipping Ol’ Blue Eyes as he did anyone other than himself. On the record, he has previously compared himself to Sinatra: “Like me, he lost focus, he took his eye off the ball and made some bad decisions.” No arguments there.
It was to the strains of Sinatra’s My Way (the Paul Anka-penned anthem to suitably narcissistic schmaltz) that Trump chose to waltz First Lady Melania around the dance floor at his inauguration ball. The song also apparently features heavily as a musical backdrop for the team working high in New York’s Trump Tower, charged with ensuring that The Donald can continue doing it ‘his way’ as president beyond 2020. Not for them any thought of the end being near, nor facing the final curtain.
Last year I reported in these pages how the Trump Tower team were working on a secret ‘Plan B’, a contingency in which Trump could run in 2020 as a populist independent – rather than a Republican candidate – should relations sour irreparably with the GOP establishment and he fail to secure the party’s presidential nomination.
Today, against the backdrop of rising GOP tension over his zero tolerance immigration policy bombast, the continued fallout from child migrant scandal and growing opposition to his trade tariff strategy, the Committee for the Re-Election of President Trump is quietly stepping up work on that fallback option. After all, as a veteran GOP campaign strategist put it to me: “Normally the idea of opposing a sitting president planning to run for re-election would be a no-no. But I can tell you that there are at least three senior Republican figures now seriously considering running against Trump for the 2020 nomination.”
Trump has always had his eyes on a second term. Indeed, he was the first president in history to file the paperwork for his re-election bid with federal election authorities on the day he was inaugurated. Whether he runs as a Republican or not is of secondary significance.
A disillusioned former senior campaign figure and longtime Trump associate told me: “Trump is obsessed with the idea that he cannot go down in history as a one-term president or wind up like his own political hero, Richard Nixon, resigning from office to escape being impeached. Hence the endless Twitter tirades against Mueller, the FBI, the Justice Department, John McCain and anyone inside or outside the GOP he sees as a critic or a threat.
“In reality, Donald isn’t so much a Republican at all. He’s the opportunist member of a special party… the Trump party. Trumpism, a personal ego trip, is what drives him, not Republican party politics, principles or philosophy… He once before came close to running for the presidency as an independent and that contingency plan has always been on the cards because of the possibility he and the GOP establishment could eventually fall out badly.”
Whether he ends up running as a Republican or independent, Trump’s re-election slogan at least hints at some continuity with the last campaign.. Keep American Great Again. There are other signs of continuity too. The strategy is being managed by social media expert Brad Parscale, who was brought in by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign guru Steve Bannon to run the digital operations during the 2016 presidential push.
Parscale, who worked closely with Facebook, Twitter and Google to boost Trump’s online impact, was described as “our secret weapon” by Kushner. While Parscale himself told CBS TV shortly after the shock election victory, “Donald Trump won, but I think Facebook was the method”.
It’s worth noting, as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to rattle both Trump and the GOP establishment, that Parscale, Kushner and Bannon were instrumental in bringing Cambridge Analytica aboard during the 2016 campaign. (Bannon was a former senior Cambridge Analytica executive and close confidant of its controversial, ultra-conservative billionaire owner Robert Mercer). And, while Cambridge Analytica itself may have closed down in the wake of the Facebook/Russian Connection maelstrom, several former CA operatives have now been recruited by Parscale to the Trump 2020 team.
At the end of last year, the Trump re-election campaign kitty reportedly held at least $22 million in cash, and that figure is believed to be substantially higher now. By contrast with previous Republican presidents running for re-election, a disproportionately large percentage of mass rally fundraising goes into Trump’s personal re-election kitty and not into GOP campaign funding generally.
Currently the Trump/GOP fallout is spreading on several fronts on an unprecedented scale, outstripping even the GOP establishment alarm that greeted his infamous defence of the Neo-Nazi white supremacists involved in the Charlottesville rally bloodshed.
Among Capitol Hill Republicans (apart from hardcore Trump loyalists) alarm bells are ringing over the president’s ramped-up ‘zero tolerance’ rhetoric against migrants and the growing realisation that his so-called climbdown over separating children from parents was less than sincere and is destined to be dangerously ineffective, with the prospect of military bases being turned into long-standing mass prison camps in the glare of media focus. Then there is the grotesque reality of authorities struggling to find a way to reunite children being held whose parents have already been expelled without any knowledge of their current location. Trump’s tweets about desperate people ‘invading’ or ‘infesting’ America, and his contempt for both the constitution and legal system, are also prompting alarm among Republicans.
Shortly before the child migrant scandal erupted, opinion polls gave Trump a 90% approval rating among party members, the highest for a GOP president since George Bush in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The GOP hierarchy and campaign strategists will now wait anxiously on the first detailed polls to emerge in the aftermath. Already, snap polls have suggested more than 60% of Americans opposed Trump’s handling of the issue, while a similar figure favoured legal migration over Trump’s tougher line on immigration generally. Paradoxically, polls also suggest that immigration will be a key issue in both the November mid-terms and the 2020 presidential campaign, giving succour to Trump’s defiant claim to the GOP leadership that it is the key to victory, not defeat, in November and beyond.
It also poses a genuine headache for Democrat campaign strategists, with the party’s position on immigration almost as fudged as Jeremy Corbyn’s on Brexit.
But GOP concern is running well beyond migration, as can be seen by the hugely-influential billionaire Koch brothers’ conservative political network launching an aggressive ‘multi-year, multimillion-dollar’ campaign against the tariffs and trade restrictions being pursued by the Trump administration. Their fears are shared by many across the US business community – and among big bucks GOP donors – who worry that the president will trigger a disastrous global trade war.
The announcement by Harley-Davidson that it is switching some production overseas to counter EU penalties imposed in response to Trump’s tariffs sent a chill down the spines of globalist GOP politicians and donors.
Then there is the not inconsiderable matter of Vladimir Putin. With the Mueller investigation continuing, several senior GOP figures on Capitol Hill, together with some members of Trump’s White House team, are trying to dissuade the president from going ahead with his off-the-cuff plan to meet the Russian leader following next month’s NATO summit and his controversial UK trip. As they have discovered many times before, though, the president is not easily dissuaded.