Trump cancels WW1 memorial at US cemetery in France due to rain

President Donald Trump could not attend a commemoration in France for U.S. soldiers and marines killed during World War One on Saturday because rain made it impossible to arrange transport, the White House said.

The last minute cancellation prompted widespread criticism on social media and from some officials in Britain and the United States that Trump had “dishonored” U.S. servicemen.

The president was scheduled to pay tribute at a ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, about 85 km (50 miles) east of Paris, with his wife Melania. But light steady rain and a low cloud ceiling prevented his helicopter from traveling to the site.

“(Their attendance) has been canceled due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather,” the White House said in a statement, adding that a delegation lead by Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired general, went instead.

The decision prompted a rash of criticism on Twitter, with Nicholas Soames, a Britishmember of parliament who is a grandson of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, saying that Trump was dishonoring U.S. servicemen.

“They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to the Fallen,” Soames wrote on Twitter.

White House officials said the decision was taken due to the weather and cited security concerns in hastily arranging a motorcade. Similar concerns prevented Trump from reaching the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea a year ago when foggy weather prevented his helicopter from landing.

Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under President Barack Obama, said the excuse about the inclement weather did not stand up.

“I helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for 8 years,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is always a rain option. Always.”

Despite the light rain, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a moving ceremony in Compiegne, northeast of Paris, to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the World War One armistice.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeauattended his own ceremony to pay tribute to Canadian troops killed at Vimy Ridge, on the battlefields of northeastern France.

Others compared Trump’s memorial snub to the National Football League’s kneeling protests.

Around 70 leaders, including Trump, are scheduled to gather at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday morning to mark the commemoration of the centenary of the end of the war, when some 10 million soldiers were killed during four years of grinding conflict.

It was not clear what Trump decided to do instead of attending the cemetery. The White House said he was at the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Paris. During that time he sent a tweet wishing a “Happy 243rd Birthday” to the U.S. Marine Corps.

The president is scheduled to take part in a ceremony at the Suresnes American Cemetery to the west of Paris on Sunday afternoon, when he is expected to make formal remarks.

[CNBC]

Trump Goes After NATO, Germany Again While at Summit: ‘What Good’ Are They?

Donald Trump is once again attacking NATO…while at the NATO summit.

Let’s review.

The president received a lot of attention and criticism today when he started the summit with America’s allies in Brussels by attacking Germany in the middle of a photo-op. While Trump was expected to present his complaints that NATO’s member nations don’t contribute enough and make the U.S. cover the defense bill, he ended up going on a tangent over this international “delinquency,” and he also slammed the Germans over their energy dealings with Russia.

After Trump ranted that “Germany is totally controlled by Russia,” Chancellor Angela Merkel fired back by reminding him that she grew up while the Soviet Union occupied East Germany, so she has a pretty good idea of what it really means to be under Russia’s thumb. When the two world leaders spoke to reporters ahead of a meeting together, Trump tried to dial things back and play nice by touting the “tremendous relationship” their countries share.

That brings us to Trump’s tweet, so all in all, it looks like we’re right back where we started when the day began.

[Mediaite]

Trump reportedly tossed a Starburst toward Merkel during G7 summit

President Trump reportedly tossed a Starburst toward German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the G7 summit in Canada.

The candy diplomacy took place during a tense exchange that was caught in a memorable image of Trump with arms folded while surrounded by European allies, according to CBS News.

“Trump was sitting there with his arms crossed, clearly not liking the fact that they were ganging up on him,” Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer said on “CBS This Morning.”

“He eventually agreed and said OK, he’ll sign it. And at that point, he stood up, put his hand in his pocket, his suit jacket pocket, and he took two Starburst candies out, threw them on the table and said to Merkel, ‘Here, Angela. Don’t say I never give you anything.’”

The Starburst outburst took place just before Trump boarded a plane to Singapore and proceeded to berate allies, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

[New York Post]

Trump busted lying about Germany

President Donald Trump on Monday made clearly false claims about Germany — which will likely only buttress support for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trump made three claims about Germany.

“The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition,” Trump tweeted.

Jeremy Cliffe, the Berlin bureau chief for The Economist, reminded that, “Merkel remains the most popular politician in Germany.”

Ironically, Trump tweeting against Merkel actually shores up her domestic political support.

“The US president’s intervention could be useful domestically for Ms Merkel because of his unpopularity; just 11 per cent of Germany has a favourable view of Mr Trump, according to research by pollster Pew for the Germany public broadcaster DW,” The Independent noted.

In fact, Trump may have just thrown Merkel a life preserver.

“Nice of the president to help Angela Merkel by giving her exactly what she needed politically : a Trump endorsement of her opponents,” explained Hudson Institute fellow Benjamin Haddad.

Trump’s second claim was that, “crime in Germany is way up.”

Reuters national security correspondent Jonathan Landay explained how thoroughly Trump had misrepresented crime in Germany.

“This is another lie by Trump,” Landay reported. “Crime is at a 30-year low in Germany.”

Trump’s third claim was that it was a “big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

“Under Merkel, Germany opened its borders to welcome around 1 million asylum-seekers in 2015. At times more than 10,000 people were arriving daily in the country, which had a population of around 81 million,” NBC News reported Monday. “But according to official figures released last month, Germany last year recorded its lowest number of criminal offenses since 1992, with figures showing the crime rate is falling more quickly among non-German suspects.”

CNN political contributor Keith Boykin reminded how this particular lie has been used in the past.

“Germany last month reported its lowest crime rate since 1992,” Boykin reminded. “Austrian-born Adolf Hitler also used lies and misinformation about crime to complain about groups of people in Germany who had ‘changed their culture.’”

The host of the Michelangelo Signorile Show on SiriusXM had even hasher words.

“Crime is not up. This is another lie. And the last line is a chilling call to white supremacists,” Signorile observed. “He’s gone full on Nazi.”

[Raw Story]

Reality

Trump used his false claims to assert Europe is losing it’s white European culture, making a very clear appeal to white nationalism.

Donald Trump warns NATO members will be ‘dealt with’ if they refuse to pay more for military alliance

Donald Trump singled out Germany in renewing his criticism of Nato members he accuses of not contributing enough, saying laggards would be “dealt with”.

Speaking alongside Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, at the White House, Mr Trump reiterated a longstanding charge that America bears a disproportionate share of supporting the military alliance’s activities.

Germany “has not contributed what it should be contributing and it’s a very big beneficiary”, said the president, who has long had a frosty relationship with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

The president’s world view is rooted in a belief that the US has consistently been taken advantage of by international pacts and organisations – a scepticism that fuels his unilaterally focused “America First” stance.

During the presidential campaign, he suggested America might only defend Nato allies if they had “fulfilled their obligations to us”.

Despite Mr Trump’s wariness, Mr Stoltenberg praised the president for impelling other nations to augment defense spending, saying “it is impacting allies because now all allies are increasing defense spending”.

During the presidential campaign, he suggested America might only defend Nato allies if they had “fulfilled their obligations to us”.

Despite Mr Trump’s wariness, Mr Stoltenberg praised the president for impelling other nations to augment defence spending, saying “it is impacting allies because now all allies are increasing defence spending”.

[The Independent]

Media

US allies furious that Trump couldn’t be bothered to read a 5-page document they prepared for him

Top American allies in Europe are reportedly upset that President Donald Trump tore up the Iran nuclear agreement without even engaging with their concerns about taking such actions.

The Washington Post reports that the United Kingdom, France and Germany had spent the past several months trying to negotiate with the U.S. State Department about a restructured version of the Iran nuclear deal that would address some of Trump’s stated concerns about the agreement.

Even though the sides were reportedly close to an agreement in April, Trump decided to tear up the pact anyway, much to European leaders’ annoyance.

To make matters worse, the Post reports that French President Emanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson all believed Trump hadn’t even bothered to understand their concerns.

“When Macron, Merkel and Johnson traveled to Washington in the days and weeks before Trump’s announcement, all came away with the feeling Trump had not read the five-page document they had prepared and perhaps was even unaware of the effort,” the publication reports. “In Brussels, where the E.U. is headquartered, many are skeptical that any further discussion is possible with the United States.”

Trump Fires Back at Merkel, Says Germany is ‘Very Bad’ For The US

President Donald Trump has criticized Germany once again for its large trade surplus with the U.S. and its low contributions to NATO, saying this attitude is “very bad” for the United States.

The comments made on Twitter take current tensions in U.S.-German relations a notch higher.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said at an election rally on Sunday that Germany and the European Union can no longer rely on the United States.

“The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over,” she told the rally in Munich.

“I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she said. Her comments came as she steps up her campaign in the September federal election.

The image of friendly relations between Germany and the U.S. seems distant since Trump took office. His administration has previously said that Germany’s trade surplus is a result of the country’s manipulation of the euro.

Germany fought back arguing that it doesn’t have powers to manipulate the euro and the only reason consumers opt for its products is because they are more competitive.

Data released last February by the German Federal Statistics Office showed that Germany’s trade surplus rose to 252.9 billion euros ($270.05 billion) in 2016, surpassing the previous high of 244.3 billion euros in 2015. If it were a single trade partner, Germany would be the fifth largest in total trade flows with the U.S. But it runs the third largest trade surplus, after China and Japan.

Meanwhile, contributions to the defense alliance NATO has emerged as another problem between Berlin and Washington. Trump has repeatedly asked NATO allies to step up their contributions. At the moment, only 5 of the 28 members fulfill the target of paying at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

According to NATO data, Germany is currently spending 1.2 percent of its GDP on NATO. The U.S. spends 3.6 percent.

At a summit last week, Germany, like other NATO members, vowed to present an action plan on how it will increase defense spending. At the time, Trump told his allies they were being unfair toward U.S. taxpayers.

[CNBC]

Allies Distance Themselves From U.S. After Trump’s First Foreign Trip

President Trump received a largely cordial welcome on the first overseas trip of his presidency. But now that he’s returned to Washington, the foreign leaders he met with are increasingly blunt in their reviews of the American president.

In separate remarks intended mostly for domestic consumption, leaders of Germany, France and Israel all sought to distance themselves from Trump, just days after meeting with the president during his nine-day foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, Brussels and Italy.

Among the sources of friction: Trump’s reluctance to unreservedly commit to the North Atlantic alliance, his skepticism of a climate change accord signed on to by his predecessor, President Obama, and outreach to Palestinians in pursuit of a Middle East peace agreement.

“It’s clear that in Europe at least, that anti-Trump position plays well domestically,” said Ivo Daalder, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO in the Obama administration. “But the larger issue is that the trip didn’t go well in Europe.”

The dynamic is partly one of Trump’s brash style. “I think what grates on European leaders is the sense that he does not treat them as equals, let alone as allies,” Daalder said. “He approaches them in this confrontational way, in an attempt to constantly get a better deal out of them.”

Trump hasn’t spoken about the trip publicly, avoiding press conferences for the entire journey. But on Twitter, he pronounced the mission a triumph. “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.

The reaction abroad was more cautious:

France: New French President Emmanuel Macron said his now-famous white-knuckled handshake with Trump was a deliberate attempt to demonstrate that he wouldn’t be bullied by the American president. “One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either,” he told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche“My handshake with him — it wasn’t innocent.”

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday at a Bavarian beer hall that Europe can no longer “fully rely” on its overseas allies. On climate issues, she said, the Group of Seven meeting was “seven against one” — counting the European Union as part of the seven (and the United States as the one). Her chief political rival took umbrage at the way Trump sought to “humiliate” Merkel in Brussels. “I reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the head of our country’s government,” said Martin Schulz, who is challenging Merkel for the chancellorship as an “anti-Trump” candidate. He said Trump was “acting like an autocratic leader.”

United Kingdom: British Prime Minister Theresa May is upset that American intelligence officials leaked information about the Manchester concert bombing to the media. Trump acknowledged that he got an earful from May, tweeting Sunday that she was “very angry” about the leaks. “Gave me full details!”

Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said Israel has “no better friend” than Trump, appeared to hold the president at arm’s length on Monday. Speaking to members of his conservative Likud party, Netanyahu warned that a Trump-brokered peace negotiation with the Palestinians “comes at a price.” And while he welcomed U.S. support for Israel, he emphasized that “there is no such thing as innocent gifts.”

Palestinian Authority: An Israeli television station reported that Trump shouted at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during their meeting in Bethlehem last week yelling, “You tricked me!” and accusing the Palestinian Authority of inciting violence in the West Bank. (The Palestinians denied the report.)

Trump’s trip began in Saudi Arabia with a summit of Muslim Arab leaders — and they’re perhaps the least likely to grumble. After feeling neglected by Obama, the Saudis welcomed a $110 billion arms package and Trump’s more bellicose rhetoric toward mutual enemies like Iran and the Islamic State.

But in Europe, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy appeared to alienate other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the 68-year-old alliance intended to contain Russia — the country at the center of a growing controversy over ties to Trump aides.

At a ceremony meant to solemnize the collective defense provision of the NATO charter in Brussels, Trump failed to explicitly reassure European allies that the U.S. would come to their aid in the event of an attack. Instead, he renewed his complaints that they were not paying their fair share. (In doing so, he misrepresented the commitment by NATO allies to spend at least 2% of their economies on defense.)

And in Sicily, where leaders of the G-7 economic powers gathered, Trump continued his hard-line stance on climate and trade issues. He reportedly told Merkel that Germany was “bad” or “evil” (depending on the translation) because of its trade imbalance with the United States.

But among Trump supporters, his tough talk to foreign leaders drew raves. Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he “could not be more pleased” with Trump’s international travels.

“The trip was executed to near perfection and it appears the president has made great progress on the broad range of objectives,” he said after speaking with Trump on Sunday.

[USA Today]

‘The Germans Are Bad, Very Bad’: Trump Pledges to ‘Stop’ German Car Sales to US

President Donald Trump is ready to fight Germany in an auto battle according to Germany’s Der Spiegel.

Trump got a chilly reception at the NATO summit in Belgium after attacking fellow members. But he was caught pledging a battle with German automakers as part of his anger with “back dues” he feels the country owes to NATO. As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted Thursday, “Trump seems to think it’s like a country club.”

In a discussion about the country’s trade surplus, Trump said. “The Germans are evil, very evil.”

“Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US, and we’ll stop that,” sources told Der Spiegel.

According to the report, EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker took up for Germany explaining that “free trade is good for all.”

According to a report from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” the EU allies were horrified by the willingness of the Americans to view global trade with such a lack of awareness. Trump’s economic consultant Gary Cohn was said to have chided German auto trade during a discussion between the US and Germany and the USA and Belgium. Trump had previously attacked them during another conversation.

“I would say to BMW if they want to build a factory in Mexico and sell cars to the US without a 35 percent tax, they can forget that,” Trump said at the time.

The report revealed that since that comment, there has been “a threat of a criminal tax” in the room.

Trump is bothered by Germany’s trade surplus because many other countries have deficits, particularly the U.S.

[Raw Story]

Trump Accuses German Reporter of Citing ‘Fake News’

President Donald Trump bristled at a question from a German reporter Friday afternoon who asked about his “America first” trade policies and disdain for the media, remarking that the reporter must have been reading “fake news.”

“Mr. President, ‘America first,’ don’t you think this is going to weaken also the European Union?” the reporter asked at Trump’s bilateral press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “And why are you so scared of diversity in the news and in the media, that you speak so often of ‘fake news’ and that things after all, in the end, cannot be proven, for example the fact that you have been wiretapped by Mr. Obama?”

“Nice friendly reporter,” Trump replied amid scattered laughter in the White House’s East Room. He did not directly address the reporter’s question about his disdain for the media, nor did he address a portion of that same reporter’s question to Merkel, which referenced past comments from the chancellor about walls coming down in seeking her thoughts on Trump’s policies.

The president did insist that he is “not an isolationist” but that he will insist, as he did on the campaign trail, that the U.S. is treated fairly in the international marketplace and does not fall victim to the pitfalls he blamed for job losses across the country.

“The United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years and that’s going to stop. But I’m not an isolationist. I’m a free trader but I’m also a fair trader and our free trade has led to a lot of bad things happening,” Trump said, noting America’s significant trade deficit and the accompanying accumulation of debt. “We’re a very powerful company — country. We’re a very strong, very strong country. We’ll soon be at a level that we perhaps have never been before.”

“I am not an isolationist by any stretch of the imagination,” the president continued. “I don’t know what newspaper you’re reading, but I guess that would be another example of, as you say, fake news.”

(h/t Politico)

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