Trump Called The Danish Prime Minister “Nasty” After He Canceled A Visit Because She Won’t Sell Greenland

A bizarre diplomatic row, even by the standards of the Trump administration, dragged on Wednesday as the US president said the way Denmark’s prime minister dismissed his idea of buying Greenland was “nasty.”

On Tuesday, President Trump abruptly canceled a planned state visit to Denmark after Mette Frederiksen, the Danish PM, firmly rejected his stated wish to buy Greenland, the semi-autonomous island home to 56,000 people.

Frederiksen had labelled the idea of the US purchasing Greenland an “absurd discussion” to be having.

But while he initially thanked the Danish PM on Twitter for “being so direct,” in remarks to journalists as he departed the White House on Wednesday, Trump branded her comment as “nasty.”

“I thought the prime minister’s statement that it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea, was nasty. I thought it was inappropriate. All she had to do was say, ‘No, we wouldn’t be interested,'” Trump said.

“She’s not talking to me. She’s talking to the United States of America,” the president added. “You don’t talk to the United States that way.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Frederiksen expressed “regret and surprise” at September’s state visit being canceled, as she reiterated once more that Greenland was not for sale.

“I had been looking forward to the visit and preparations were well underway,” Frederiksen told journalists in Copenhagen in a statement delivered in Danish and English. “It was an opportunity to celebrate Denmark’s close relationship to the US, which remains one of Denmark’s closest allies.”

She added, “This does not change the character of our good relations [with the US], and we will of course from Denmark continue our ongoing dialogue with the US on how we can develop our cooperation and deal with the many common challenges we are facing.”

Only hours before Trump canceled the state visit, the American ambassador, Carla Sands, tweeted excitedly about the president’s upcoming visit.

But on Wednesday she was in damage control mode.

Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, had been invited by Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II. Denmark’s state broadcaster quoted a royal spokesperson as saying that Trump’s announcement “came as a surprise.”

“That’s all we have to say about that,” the spokesperson added.

Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt was more direct. “Is this some sort of joke?” she wrote on Twitter after Trump canceled the state visit.

The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that Trump had raised the possibility of buying Greenland, and he confirmed Sunday that such a purchase had been discussed because of the island’s strategic location and natural resources.

“Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal. A lot of things can be done,” Trump said. “It’s hurting Denmark very badly, because they’re losing almost $700 million a year carrying it. So they carry it at a great loss.”

He later tweeted a meme of a Trump Tower–style skyscraper in a settlement in Greenland.

But any such sale was firmly ruled out by Denmark and Greenland, which is self-governing in all respects apart from foreign policy and defense.

Speaking in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, on Sunday, Frederiksen said the sale of Greenland was not even up for discussion, pointing out, for one thing, that Greenland belongs to Greenland, not Denmark.

“Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over,” she told a TV reporter. “Let’s leave it there.”

[Buzzfeed]

Trump tore out magazine picture of Justin Trudeau, scrawled odd message and mailed it to Canadian embassy

Donald Trump reportedly tore out a magazine picture of Justin Trudeau, scrawled a brief note about the Canadian prime minister “looking good”, and made White House officials mail it to the neighbouring country’s embassy.

The message – first reported by Axios – is said to have been written by the US president on the torn-out cover of a May 2017 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, which featured an image of Mr Trudeau alongside a caption reading “The Anti-Trump”.

On it, Mr Trump reportedly jotted a note reading something to the effect of, “Looking good! Hope it’s not true!” according to the US news outlet.

The Canadian ambassador considered the note so strange he thought it was a prank, but after calling US officials was told the note was genuine.

Although some White House staff reportedly considered the note inappropriate, the National Security Council ultimately decided it was done in good humour and would be considered by Ottawa to be friendly contact.

Another exchange in December of that year reportedly saw Mr Trump send Mr Trudeau a document purporting to show a US trade deficit with Canada.

Mr Trudeau reportedly responded by including in his letter a printout of a US government website showing America actually has a trade surplus over its neighbour when services are included with goods.

The Canadian prime minister reportedly included a smiley face alongside the document.

Months later, on Dec. 8, 2017, President Trump falsely told a rally crowd in Pensacola, Florida, that the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada. Around that same time, Trump also mailed Trudeau a document purporting to show that the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada, according to a source with direct knowledge.

  • Trump wrote in Sharpie on the document: “Not good!!” or something to that effect, the source recalled. Trump’s document only mentioned America’s deficit in the trade of goods and ignored its surplus in services (the two combined would gave the U.S. its overall surplus).

A few weeks later, Trump received a handwritten letter from Trudeau. The note, on Trudeau’s official stationery marked by the Maple Leaf, began with a friendly tone, but ended with a drop of acid.

  • “Dear Donald,” Trudeau wrote in the letter dated Dec. 20, 2017, according to a source with direct knowledge of its contents, which 2 other sources confirmed. “It’s been a busy year! Enjoy the Christmas holidays — you deserve it.”
  • “One thing,” Trudeau added. “You gave a great speech in Pensacola, but you were slightly off on the balance of trade with Canada. USTR says so! All the best for 2018, Justin.”

The second page of the letter brought the kicker. Trudeau enclosed a printout of Canada’s informational page from the website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

  • Trudeau underlined the section on the USTR website, which at the time reported that “the U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $12.5 billion in 2016.” Trudeau circled the $12.5 billion and drew a cheeky little smiley face next to it, according to a source with direct knowledge.

A Canadian government official responded to this reporting: “We’re not going to comment on whether or what paper was exchanged between our 2 countries. There was a lot of back and forth. That said, it is certainly true that there were disagreements between our 2 countries about the figures, and we repeatedly pointed to USTR and U.S. Commerce’s own figures. On your second point (the Bloomberg cover), no comment, but we don’t deny it.”

Why this matters: The U.S.-Canadian relationship is, in normal times, low-friction. But not under Trump, who views Trudeau as an irritant at best. In a conversation in the White House last year, Trump told aides he thought Canada was “the worst” country to negotiate with. “Who would think? Canada?” Trump said.

  • Trump now says very little about Trudeau, according to an adviser, and believes he and his trade representative Bob Lighthizer got the better of the Canadians in their trade negotiations.

Behind the scenes: Trump privately refers to Trudeau as a “wise guy,” per sources with direct knowledge. He describes Trudeau as young and cocky, and he resents it when Trudeau comments on American politics.

  • Trump has gleefully recounted to aides how he threatened the Canadians with auto tariffs. He says it got him a better deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
  • Trump has also privately described Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland as “very nasty,” according to senior administration officials.
  • Trump was pleased with the optics of the G7 last year, an adviser said. Trump says he dominated Trudeau there, the adviser added, and loves the viral photo of himself sitting with his arms crossed as world leaders hover over him. Trump also relished leaving the summit early — snub to Trudeau, who Trump said had treated him with disrespect.
  • The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The big picture: The president is in Year 3 of his relationships with foreign leaders, and in some cases they’ve changed substantially. Trump’s bromance with France’s 41-year-old leader Emmanuel Macron has faded, and Trump privately places Macron in a similar “wise guy” category as the 47-year-old Trudeau.

  • Last week, Trump chided Macron on Twitter for “purporting” to represent the U.S. in conversations with Iran.
  • Trump has also hammered China with escalating tariffs and increasingly tough rhetoric — a significant change from his more frequent emphasis on his close personal relationship with President Xi Jinping in Year 1.

[Yahoo News ,Axios]

Trump Swipes at Emmanuel Macron Over Attempts to Broker Iran Talks: Nobody Speaks for the US but the US Itself

President Donald Trump said Thursday that the US would not participate in discussions with Iran should France attempt to be the mediator.

” Nobody speaks for the United States but the United States itself. No one is authorized in any way, shape, or form, to represent us!” the president tweeted Thursday. He added that Iran “desperately wants to talk to the US” but is given “mixed signals” by those “purporting to represent” US interests.

The U.S. has been ramping up pressure on Iran in the form of strict sanctions as of late. Sanctions specifically have been imposed upon  Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accusing him of being an “apologist” for the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has been asking French President Emmanuel Macron to mediate discussions between the US and Iran regarding sanctions. Iran has reacted to renewed US sanctions aimed at strangling its oil trade by retreating from commitments to limit nuclear activity. Since the US pulled out of the nuclear deal last year,France, Britain and Germany have worked to salvage the deal.

Rouhani’s office quoted him as having told Macron, “Concurrent with attempts by Iran and France to reduce tensions and create helpful conditions for lasting coexistence in the region, we are witnessing provocative actions by the Americans,” according to Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the US government-funded Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

[Mediaite]

US formally withdraws from nuclear treaty with Russia and prepares to test new missile

The United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia Friday, as the US military prepares to test a new non-nuclear mobile-launched cruise missile developed specifically to challenge Moscow in Europe, according to a senior US defense official.

The US withdrawal puts an end to a landmark arms control pact that has limited the development of ground-based missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers and is sparking fears of a new arms race.

“Russia is solely responsible for the treaty’s demise,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Friday announcing the US’ formal withdrawal from the Cold-War era nuclear treaty.

Pompeo said, “Russia failed to return to full and verified compliance through the destruction of its noncompliant missile system.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN’s Hala Gorani that the treaty’s end is a “serious setback.”

‘A bad day’

“The fact that we don’t have the INF Treaty anymore, the fact that the Russians over the years have deployed new missiles, which can reach European cities within minutes, which are hard to detect, are mobile and are nuclear capable, and therefore reduce the threshold of any potential use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict — of course that’s a bad day for all of us who believe in arms control and stability in Europe,” Stoltenberg said.”At the same time, NATO is there to protect all our allies and we will take the necessary measures to retain credible defense,” he added.The new US missile test, which CNN reported Thursday, is expected to take place in the next few weeks and will essentially be the Trump administration’s answer to Russia’s years-long non-compliance with the INF treaty, the senior US defense official said.A senior administration official told reporters that the US will be testing the cruise missiles that were forbidden by the INF treaty because “Russia cannot maintain military advantage,” but claimed that it will take years for the US to deploy those weapons.

Deployment

“We are literally years away before we would be at a point where we would talk about basing of any particular capability. Because of our steadfast adherence to the treaty over 32 years, we are barely, after almost a year, at a point where we are contemplating initial flight tests,” explained the senior administration official, noting that the US would only look at deploying conventional weapons, not nuclear weapons.

But the Pentagon said in March that this ground launched missile could be ready for deployment within 18 months. The administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2020, released in February, included $96 million for continued research and development on INF range missile systems.

And arms control experts say it’s not difficult to convert existing air- or sea-based systems into the ground-based missile the Pentagon plans to test. “It is not a significant engineering task,” said Jon Wolfsthal, director of the Nuclear Crisis Group and a former nuclear expert for the National Security Council under the Obama administration. “It’s well within the capability of major defense contractors and the army to pull off.”

The end of the INF pact leaves the US and Russia with just one nuclear arms agreement, the New START Treaty, which governs strategic nuclear weapons and delivery systems for each side. If New START isn’t renewed or extended by 2021, the world’s two largest nuclear powers would have no limits on their arsenals for the first time in decades.

President Donald Trump’s ambivalent comments about New START and national security advisor John Bolton’s well-known dislike for arms control treaties have given rise to deep concern about a new nuclear arms race.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told reporters Thursday that the INF Treaty’s expiry means “the world will lose an invaluable brake on nuclear war. This will likely heighten, not reduce, the threat posed by ballistic missiles.”

He urged the US and Russia to “urgently seek agreement on a new common path for international arms control.”

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO supreme allied commander, said on CNN “New Day” that the termination of the treaty also marks “one more ratchet up on the movement towards a more adversarial relationship with Russia.”

But he added that the US “really didn’t have a choice” because the treaty wasn’t effective.

‘A competition with nuclear arms’

“We’re going into a new competition, a military competition, including a competition with nuclear arms against development that Russia, and to some extent, China are making,” Clark said. “No one wants to do this. It’s expensive, it’s dangerous, but it’s necessary if we’re going to maintain our security in an uncertain world.”The Trump administration casts the forthcoming test of the new ground-based missiles as necessary to US national security, even as it seeks to tamp down any suggestion that the US is triggering an arms race, a claim that’s met with skepticism in the arms control community.When asked if the US will commit to maintaining some kind of arms control despite this treaty being defunct, the official largely put the onus on Russia.”I can’t speak for the Russian federation so I can’t promise that they will be amenable to additional arms control,” the official said. “I can only tell you that the US, from the President on down, is interested in finding an effective arms control solution.”On Friday, Russia said it is inviting the US and NATO to join them in declaring a moratorium on deployment of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

‘Not credible’

“We invited the US and other NATO countries to assess the possibility of declaring the same moratorium on deploying intermediate-range and shorter-range equipment as we have, the same moratorium Vladimir Putin declared, saying that Russia will refrain from deploying these systems when we acquire them unless the American equipment is deployed in certain regions,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, Russian state news agency TASS reported.Stoltenberg on Friday dismissed Russia’s offer of a moratorium as “not credible,” because Russia has been deploying missiles for years.”There is zero credibility in offering a moratorium on missiles they are already deploying,” he said. “There are no new US missiles, no new NATO missiles in Europe but there are more and more Russian missiles,” Stoltenberg said in a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels.International allies, including the United Kingdom, emphasized their support for the US’ move to withdraw from the INF treaty.NATO allies said in a statement that Russia remains in violation of the INF Treaty, “despite years of U.S. and Allied engagement,” adding that they fully support the US’ decision.

NATO added that over the past six months Russia had a “final opportunity” to honor the treaty but failed.UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Russia caused the INF Treaty collapse, tweeting, “Their contempt for the rules based international system threatens European security.”The senior US defense official said that the US has long had evidence that Russia has developed, tested and fielded “multiple battalions” of non-INF compliant cruise and ballistic missiles. The US believes the deployments are “militarily significant” because the missiles are mobile, allowing Moscow to move them rapidly and making it difficult for the US to track them.The Russian missiles use solid fuel, which also means they can be readied in a very short time frame to be fired at targets, especially in western Europe.Alexandra Bell, senior policy director at the non-partisan Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation, explains that “with this type of missile there’s very short warning, attacks are harder to spot by radar, so it’s just more destabilizing. They made the situation in Europe more dangerous.”

Russian targets

The Pentagon has been working on the new missile system’s very initial phases, which will lead to the first test in the coming weeks, the defense official said. The official emphasized there is no formal program yet to develop the missile, because the INF treaty has been in effect.The US also has yet to formally discuss and commit to firm basing options, the defense official said. The concept, the official said, would be to position the missiles in militarily advantageous positions from which they could fire past Russian defenses and target ports, military bases or critical infrastructure.But no NATO member “has said it would be willing to host new US intermediate range missiles,” Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association.Indeed, several NATO members, including Poland, have made clear that any deployment of the missiles in Europe would have to be approved by all NATO members. Stoltenberg has emphasized that NATO will respond to the end of the INF Treaty as an alliance and would not be amenable to US missile deployments on its border.”What we will do will be measured, it will be coordinated as a NATO family, no bilateral arrangements, but NATO as an alliance,” Stoltenberg said last month. “We will not mirror what Russia is doing, meaning that we will not deploy missiles,” the NATO chief said.

[CNN]

Trump Ratchets Up U.S.-China Trade War With More Tariffs; Stocks Slide

President Trump announced Thursday that the United States will impose a new 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of products imported from China, saying Beijing had broken some of the promises it made in trade negotiations.

The new tariffs, which are set to take effect Sept. 1, represent another ratcheting up in trade tensions between the countries and sent stocks falling sharply. 

Major U.S. stock indexes fell about 1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 280 points. Oil prices tumbled about 8% after Trump’s announcement on concerns that the tariffs would hurt demand.

The move comes days after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin traveled to Shanghai for a brief meeting about trade with Chinese officials.

The White House said the meeting was “constructive” and negotiations were scheduled to resume in September in Washington, D.C.

But Trump indicated he was disappointed by the lack of progress in the talks, saying China had failed to follow through on promises to curb the sale of fentanyl and buy more products from U.S. farmers.

“Additionally, my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States – this never happened, and many Americans continue to die!” Trump said in a tweet.

Still, the president tried to strike a more positive tone than he has in the past, saying, “We look forward to continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive Trade Deal, and feel that the future between our two countries will be a very bright one!”

The president has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports. In May, Trump had threatened additional tariffs but suspended them at the last minute.

Now, he is going ahead with tariffs after all, though at a lower rate than before.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the first time since 2008 amid signs that the economies of the United States and other countries are slowing. The central bank also cited the uncertainty created by the standoff with China.

“Certainly, we’ve seen … that when there’s a sharp confrontation between two large economies, you can see effects on business confidence pretty quickly and on financial markets pretty quickly,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in a news conference after the interest rate announcement.

Industry groups said the new tariffs will hurt shoppers and threaten jobs.

“We are disappointed the administration is doubling-down on a flawed tariff strategy that is already slowing U.S. economic growth, creating uncertainty and discouraging investment,” David French, vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement. “These additional tariffs will only threaten U.S. jobs and raise costs for American families on everyday goods.”

Matt Priest, head of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, said in a statement: “President Trump is, in effect, using American families as a hostage in his trade war negotiations. Tariffs are taxes and this move will noticeably raise the cost of shoes at retail and will have a chilling effect on hiring in the footwear industry.”

Trump has lately indicated that the U.S. can win a trade war with Beijing, pointing out that China’s economy has been slowing after a long period of rapid growth.

U.S. officials want China to address the theft of intellectual property, stop subsidizing its companies and open its markets to more U.S. goods.

[NPR]

Trump Just Strong-Armed Guatemala Into a “Safe Third Country” Agreement.

The United States and Guatemala have reached a deal that has the potential to end most asylum seekers’ ability to seek protection at the US-Mexico border.

Under an agreement announced Friday afternoon, asylum seekers who travel through Guatemala on their way to the United States would be returned to Guatemala and forced to seek protection there. That would largely block Salvadorans and Hondurans from receiving asylum in the United States, as well as large numbers of asylum seekers from around the world who travel by land to the US border after flying to South America. Instead, only Mexicans and Guatemalans would be able to seek protection at the border.

The agreement would not apply to children who arrive at the border alone and would remain in effect for two years, according to a copy released by the Guatemalan government (in Spanish).

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said on a press call that he expects the deal, which is known as a safe third country agreement, to take effect in the next few weeks. Earlier this month, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court blocked President Jimmy Morales from unilaterally signing such an agreement. It is still not clear how Morales’ administrations plans to get around that. 

Beyond that it is unclear how Guatemala—which has become the leading sending country of migrants to the United States under Trump—plans to provide refuge for the thousands of asylum seekers who could arrive from El Salvador, Honduras, and elsewhere. As the Washington Post‘s Mexico and Central America bureau chief, Kevin Sieff, pointed out on Twitter, Guatemala doesn’t exactly have much recent experience handling asylum claims.

The deal, if it goes into effect, would be one of Trump’s two most important efforts to undermine the asylum system. The other is the Remain in Mexico program, which is forcing thousands of asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are pending in US immigration courts. Combined, the two policies could block the vast majority of asylum seekers who come to the southern border from entering the United States. People who fly or travel by sea to the United States would still be eligible to apply for asylum. (The problem for asylum seekers, particularly those who aren’t wealthy, is that it is often impossible to get a visa to fly to the United States, which is why people turn to smugglers instead.)

McAleenan said that by requiring people to apply for asylum in Guatemala, the agreement would “increase the integrity of the [asylum] process, keep vulnerable families that are really economic migrants out of the hands of smugglers, and allow us to reach those with asylum claims more expeditiously.”

Morales was supposed to come to the White House on July 15 to sign a safe third country agreement, but the trip was canceled at the last minute in response to the Constitutional Court decision. Trump responded to the Guatemalan court decision this week by threatening to impose tariffs on Guatemala and ban Guatemalans from entering the United States. 

Like Trump, Morales is a former television personality who ran for president in 2015 as a political outsider. Since then, Morales has worked aggressively to undermine a renowned UN-backed anti-corruption commission that has targeted members of his family. His administration also has gone out of its way to please Trump, moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem immediately after the United States did. The Trump administration has been largely silent about Morales’ efforts to undermine the rule of law in Guatemala.

[Mother Jones]

Trump targets French wine to retaliate for France’s digital tax

The United States will announce retaliatory action against France in response to the country’s new tax affecting American technology companies, President Donald Trump said Friday.

He suggested he could target French wine with tariffs — a move experts considered the most likely U.S. response to the French digital services tax.

“I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine!” Trump tweeted.

In the tweet, the president said his administration will unveil “a substantial reciprocal action” following what he called French President Emmanuel Macron’s “foolishness.”

Earlier this month, France passed a 3% tax that will affect firms such as Facebook and Google that draw about $28 million or more in revenue from digital services in France. The Trump administration then started an investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

If, after the probe, the U.S. determines the tax is discriminatory or unreasonably targets U.S. firms, Trump could respond with tariffs. Trade experts considered Trump’s most likely response a 100% tariff on French wine — one of the country’s signature, symbolic products.

In a statement Friday, White House spokesman Judd Deere criticized France’s tax but did not give any new details on what the U.S. could do to retaliate. He said the administration is “looking closely at all other policy tools” in addition to the already launched investigation as it determines how to respond to France.

“The Trump Administration has consistently stated that it will not sit idly by and tolerate discrimination against U.S.-based firms,” he said.

In a CNBC interview last month, Trump suggested he could put tariffs on French wine. He said California wine producers have complained to him about France putting higher tariffs on imports than the U.S. does. “And you know what, it’s not fair. We’ll do something about it,” he said.

France exported 3.2 billion euros (or about $3.6 billion) in wine to the U.S. last year, according to the Federation of French Wines and Spirits Exporters. The U.S. was France’s biggest wine export market.

Trump does not drink alcohol, but he is familiar with the wine industry. While in office, Trump has touted the Virginia-based Trump Winery operated by his son, Eric.

Tariffs on France would open up another conflict as Trump tries to navigate thorny trade relationships around the globe. Already in the coming months, the White House looks to push a skeptical Congress to approve Trump’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement and strike a trade deal with China.

[NBC News]

Trump: ‘Wacky’ UK ambassador a ‘very stupid guy’

President Trump early Tuesday ramped up his criticism of the British ambassador to the United States, who called Trump “inept” in leaked cables, saying Kim Darroch is “a very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool.”

“The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled,” Trump tweeted.

Trump also again attacked British Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit, saying he told her “how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done.”

“A disaster!” he continued. “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool. Tell him the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World, by far and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger…..Thank you, Mr. President!”

Darroch reportedly described Trump as “incompetent” and “inept” in memos and notes sent to the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Barroch also described conflicts within the Trump administration as “knife fights” and said he doesn’t believe the White House will “ever look competent.”

Trump tweeted on Monday after the leaked cables were reported that he would “no longer deal with” Darroch.

“I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him,” he said.

Shortly after Trump’s tweet, an administration official said Darroch was disinvited from a Monday night dinner hosted by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with Trump and the emir of Qatar.

[The Hill]

Trump says administration will ‘no longer deal with’ British ambassador

President Donald Trump on Monday trashed Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain and threatened to “no longer deal with” the British ambassador to Washington following leaks of the envoy’s reportedly harsh assessment of Trump’s administration.

“I have been very critical about the way the U.K. and Prime Minister Theresa May handled Brexit,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “What a mess she and her representatives have created. I told her how it should be done, but she decided to go another way.”

“I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well … thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him,” Trump continued. “The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new Prime Minister. While I thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent State Visit last month, it was the Queen who I was most impressed with!”

The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, reported on Saturday that Ambassador Kim Darroch leveled various insults against Trump and his White House in memos to London dating back to 2017.

“We don’t really believe this Administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept,” Darroch wrote in one of the documents, according to the Mail.

A U.K. government spokesperson said in response to Trump’s tweets that London had been in touch with Washington to make clear “how unfortunate this leak is.”

“The selective extracts leaked do not reflect the closeness of, and the esteem in which we hold, the relationship,” the spokesperson said.

“At the same time, we have also underlined the importance of ambassadors being able to provide honest, unvarnished assessments of the politics in their country. Sir Kim Darroch continues to have the Prime Minister’s full support.”

“The U.K. has a special and enduring relationship with the U.S. based on our long history and commitment to shared values and that will continue to be the case.”

May’s spokesman said on Monday that Downing Street had contacted the Trump administration, “setting out our view that we believe the leak is unacceptable” and calling the episode “a matter of regret,” Reuters reported. The British trade minister, Liam Fox, also told BBC Radio he would apologize to Ivanka Trump on his scheduled visit to Washington during their planned meeting.

Speaking to reporters in New Jersey on Sunday, Trump asserted that Darroch “has not served the U.K. well,” adding, “We’re not big fans of that man.”

In a news conference with May last month during his first state visit to Britain, Trump praised the outgoing prime minister as “probably a better negotiator than I am,” and said she deserved “a lot of credit” for her handling of Brexit.

Trump’s tweet immediately raised questions about the legal and diplomatic standing of Darroch, including whether the president’s tweet essentially declared the British ambassador “persona non grata.” That term is used in diplomatic circles when a country wants to kick out a foreign official or sometimes other foreigners or prevent them from entering.

Asked whether it was interpreting Trump’s tweet as declaring Darroch persona non grata, the State Department referred POLITICO to the White House. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A former senior State Department official, however, told POLITICO that he would not interpret the tweet as having the effect of “PNG’ing” someone — at least not yet. What’s more likely is that State Department and White House officials will confer on whether to take the president’s tweet as an official instruction and, if so, tell everyone across the federal government not to engage with Darroch, the former official said. That alone could lead Britain to pull the ambassador out of Washington.

If a decision is made at higher levels to declare Darroch persona non grata, it will have to be formally communicated to him by the State Department in a special notice, the former senior department official said.

[Politico]

Trump likens Irish border to wall between US and Mexico

Donald Trump has started his visit to Ireland by comparing its post-Brexit border with Northern Ireland to the US border with Mexico, along which he wants to build a permanent wall.

Trump, sitting next to a visibly uncomfortable taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, waded into the Brexit debate minutes after Air Force One touched down at Shannon airport on Wednesday afternoon.

“I think it will all work out very well, and also for you with your wall, your border,” he said at a joint press conference. “I mean, we have a border situation in the United States, and you have one over here. But I hear it’s going to work out very well here.”

Varadkar interjected that Ireland wished to avoid a border or a wall, a keystone of Irish government policy.

“I think you do, I think you do,” Trump said. “The way it works now is good, you want to try and to keep it that way. I know that’s a big point of contention with respect to Brexit. I’m sure it’s going to work out very well. I know they’re focused very heavily on it.”

In London on Tuesday Trump met the Brexiter politicians Nigel Farage, Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson, all of whom have played down the idea that the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland will be a problem after the UK leaves the EU.

Trump echoed their confidence in Shannon. “There are a lot of good minds thinking about how to do it and it’s going to be just fine. It ultimately could even be very, very good for Ireland. The border will work out.”

The Irish government has mounted an intense, three-year diplomatic effort arguing the opposite, that Brexit threatens peace and prosperity on the island of Ireland.

The US president’s comments were an awkward start to what is expected to be a low-key end to his visit to Europe, with much of his time spent at his golf and hotel resort in Doonbeg, County Clare. From Shannon airport he took a short helicopter ride to his resort on the Atlantic coast.

Addressing the media after Trump’s departure, Varadkar said he explained the history of the border and the Troubles in their private meeting. “We talked Brexit. President Trump shares our objective to keep the border open.” He said Trump had not elaborated on why he thought Brexit could benefit Ireland.

The two leaders also discussed trade, visas and taxes paid by US corporations with operations in Ireland.

The Irish president, Michael D Higgins, made an unexpected intervention on the eve of the visit by calling Trump’s policy on the climate emergency “regressive and pernicious”, a critique protesters will echo at rallies in Shannon and Dublin.

Trump told reporters he was unaware of Higgins’ comments and reiterated that the US had enjoyed cleaner air and water since he became president, a claim he also made in London.

After three days of pomp, pageantry and politics during his state visit to Britain, Trump and his entourage, which includes his wife, Melania, and his four adult children, will be mostly out of the public gaze in the remote, windswept landscape of Loop Head peninsula.

On Thursday, Trump will travel to France for D-day commemorations before returning to Doonbeg, where he is due to play a round of golf on Friday before flying home.

The Irish police deployed 1,500 uniformed officers plus 500 members of specialised units, including divers and armed and air support, to secure Shannon airport and Doonbeg.

Trump’s 162-hectare (400 acre) resort was in lockdown and closed to the public. Newly installed surveillance cameras with night-vision capability fed images to a police control room.

Roads to the adjacent village of Doonbeg remained open. Locals have erected US flags and expressed hope Trump would visit one of their pubs, despite him being teetotal.

The resort employs more than 300 people during summer and is an economic lifeline for the region. Fr Joe Haugh, the parish priest, said: “The people are 99.9% behind him.”

Elsewhere, there were protests by individuals and groups opposed to the US president’s record on the environment and the rights of women, immigrants, ethnic minorities and LGBT people.

Demonstrators set up a “peace camp” outside Shannon airport, and the Trump blimp used by protesters in London was due to appear at a rally in Dublin on Thursday.

The visit has created a political and diplomatic challenge for the Irish government. Trump is not popular in Ireland. Varadkar reportedly asked to have the meeting at Shannon airport, a neutral venue, rather than in Trump’s resort.

The hosts, however, are keen to lobby the US president over trade, visas for Irish workers and support for the peace process. They also want to explain the potential impact of Brexit on the border and try to placate Trump over Ireland’s low-tax regime and use of Huawei technology in the new 5G network.

Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, sought a delicate balance when asked about Higgins’ criticism of Trump’s climate policies. The Irish president caught the mood of the Irish people quite well, he told RTÉ, but regressive was “a better adjective” than pernicious.

The hosts will be hoping Trump does not broach a source of personal irritation. Environmental objections have stalled a sea barrier he wishes to build to protect his resort from erosion. The US president has described the battle as an “unpleasant experience”.

[The Guardian]

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