Next stop on Euro­pean tour sees Trump dish up fresh dose of chaos aimed at May, Lon­don­ers

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN LEMIRE and JILL COLVIN

BLEN­HEIM PALACE, Eng­land — Dish­ing up a fresh dose of chaos on his Euro­pean tour, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump left be­hind a con­tentious NATO gath­er­ing in Brus­sels and moved on to Bri­tain, where a pomp-filled wel­come cer­e­mony was soon over­shad­owed by an in­ter­view in which Trump blasted Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, blamed Lon­don’s mayor for terror at­tacks against the city and ar­gued that Europe was “los­ing its cul­ture” be­cause of im­mi­gra­tion.

Trump, in an in­ter­view with The Sun news­pa­per, said he felt un­wel­come in Lon­don be­cause of protests, in­clud­ing plans to fly a giant bal­loon over Par­lia­ment on Fri­day that de­picts him as an an­gry baby in a di­a­per.

“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel un­wel­come, no rea­son for me to go to Lon­don,” he said.

Trump, in the in­ter­view given be­fore he left Brus­sels for the U.K., ac­cused May of ru­in­ing what her coun­try stands to gain from the Brexit vote to leave the Euro­pean Union. He said her for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary, Boris

John­son, would make an “ex­cel­lent” prime min­is­ter, speak­ing just days af­ter John­son re­signed his po­si­tion in protest over May’s Brexit plans.

Trump added that May’s “soft” blue­print for the U.K.’s fu­ture deal­ings with the EU would prob­a­bly “kill” any fu­ture trade deals with the United States.

“If they do a deal like that, we would be deal­ing with the Euro­pean Union in­stead of deal­ing with the U.K., so it will prob­a­bly kill the deal,” Trump told the pa­per.

Trump, who has com­pared his own elec­tion to the June 2016 ref­er­en­dum in which a ma­jor­ity of British vot­ers sup­ported leav­ing the EU, com­plained, “The deal she is strik­ing is a much dif­fer­ent deal than the one the peo­ple voted on.”

He also told the tabloid that he’d shared ad­vice with May dur­ing Bri­tain’s ne­go­ti­a­tions with the EU and she ig­nored it.

De­tails from Trump’s in­ter­view with the pa­per be­came pub­lic as Trump was at­tend­ing a black-tie din­ner with May to wel­come him to Bri­tain with pomp and pageantry.

As for John­son, Trump said: “I think he would be a great prime min­is­ter. I think he’s got what it takes.” He added, “I think he is a great rep­re­sen­ta­tive for your coun­try.”

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders is­sued a state­ment af­ter the tabloid in­ter­view was pub­lished, say­ing Trump “likes and re­spects Prime Min­is­ter May very much.

“As he said in his in­ter­view with the Sun she ‘is a very good per­son’ and he ‘never said any­thing bad about her.’ He thought she was great on NATO to­day and is a re­ally ter­rific per­son,” San­ders wrote.

On Thurs­day night, hun­dreds of demon­stra­tors chanted out­side the U.S. am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence where Trump was stay­ing on the out­skirts of Lon­don, pro­vid­ing a pre­view of the force­ful protests ex­pected on Fri­day.

Trump ac­knowl­edged he didn’t feel wel­come in the city, and blamed that in part on Mayor Sadiq Khan, who gave pro­test­ers per­mis­sion to fly the 20-foot­tall bal­loon de­pict­ing Trump as an an­gry baby.

Trump also blamed re­cent ter­ror­ist at­tacks there on Khan, who is a Mus­lim. The pres­i­dent claimed Europe is “los­ing its cul­ture” be­cause of im­mi­gra­tion from the Mid­dle East and Africa.

“Al­low­ing the im­mi­gra­tion to take place in Europe is a sham,” he said. “I think it changed the fab­ric of Europe and, un­less you act very quickly, it’s never go­ing to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a pos­i­tive way.”

In sharp con­trast to the pres­i­dent’s sharp words, Trump’s first event in En-

gland was an oa­sis of warm greet­ings at an evening re­cep­tion at Blen­heim Palace, birth­place of Win­ston Churchill, the larger-than-life British leader cited by the pres­i­dent as a model of lead­er­ship. That was just one of sev­eral he­li­copter rides on the agenda for Trump, whose staff opted to keep him largely out of cen­tral Lon­don and the swarms of demon­stra­tors who are likely to pro­vide some of the defin­ing images of his first of­fi­cial trip to the U.K.

Trump’s Marine One de­par­ture from the am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence was met by jeers from demon­stra­tors bang­ing pots and pans, and an­other pack of pro­test­ers lined roads near the palace. Some of their signs read “Dump Trump,” ‘’Lock Him Up” and “There Will Be Hell Toupee.” Po­lice worked over­time, their days off can­celled.

Trump was greeted at the palace by May, whose govern­ment has been rocked by res­ig­na­tions from on­go­ing tu­mult over Brexit.

The out­door ar­rival cer­e­mony at Blen­heim – Trump wore a tuxedo and first lady Me­la­nia Trump a but­ter-yel­low, chif­fon, off-the-shoul­der gown – was a grand af­fair marked by a mil­i­tary band in bearskin hats, hun­dreds of busi­ness lead­ers in black tie and gor­geous set­ting sun­light.

The mood was far less jovial in Bel­gium ear­lier in the day.

Dur­ing his 28 hours there, Trump had dis­par­aged long­time NATO al­lies, cast doubt on his com­mit­ment to the mu­tual-de­fense or­ga­ni­za­tion and sent the 29-mem­ber pact into a fren­zied emer­gency ses­sion.

Then, in a head-snap­ping pivot at the end, he de­clared the al­liance a “fine­tuned ma­chine” that had ac­ceded to his de­mands to speed up in­creases in mil­i­tary spend­ing to re­lieve pres­sure on the U.S. bud­get. But there was lit­tle ev­i­dence other lead­ers had bowed to his wishes on that front.

Trump claimed mem­ber na­tions had agreed to boost their de­fense bud­gets sig­nif­i­cantly and reaf­firmed – af­ter days of grip­ing that the U.S. was be­ing taken ad­van­tage of by its al­lies – that the U.S. re­mains faith­ful to the ac­cord.

“The United States’ com­mit­ment to NATO re­mains very strong,” Trump told re­porters at a sur­prise news con­fer­ence fol­low­ing the emer­gency ses­sion of NATO mem­bers.

Nei­ther Trump nor NATO of­fered specifics on what Trump said he had achieved. French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron quickly dis­puted Trump’s claim that NATO al­lies had agreed to boost de­fense spend­ing be­yond their ex­ist­ing goal of 2 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct by 2024.

“There is a com­mu­nique that was pub­lished yes­ter­day; it’s very de­tailed,” Macron said. “It con­firms the goal of 2 per­cent by 2024. That’s all.”

Trump

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