Trump slams Danish PM, drops trip
President calls reply of US interest to buy Greenland ‘nasty’
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday attacked Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, saying she had made “nasty” comments about his interest in having the United States purchase Greenland.
Trump announced Tuesday night that he was abruptly calling off a planned two-day state visit to Copenhagen next month over Frederiksen’s refusal to entertain the sale of Greenland, a self-governing country that is part of the kingdom of Denmark.
Frederiksen told reporters Wednesday she was surprised by Trump’s change in plans and also lamented the missed opportunity to celebrate the historic alliance between Denmark and the United States, saying preparations for the visit had been “well underway.”
Frederiksen called the idea of the sale of Greenland “absurd” over the weekend after news broke of Trump’s interest — a characterization that apparently offended him.
“I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off,” Trump told reporters Wednesday at the White House. “She shouldn’t treat the United States that way ... She said ‘absurd.’ That’s not the right word to use.”
Trump noted that others had also floated the idea of a U.S. purchase of Greenland, including former President Harry Truman.
Later, after departing on a trip to Kentucky, Trump wrote on Twitter that despite being “a wealthy country,” Denmark was falling short of a NATO goal for defense spending.
A Trump adviser said the president was annoyed at planned back-to-back trips to Europe and the extensive flying involved and that the comments by Frederiksen gave him a reason to cancel the Denmark leg. Trump is scheduled to leave later this week for a Group of Seven summit in France.
“He is not looking forward to any of it,” said the adviser, who spoke to Trump this week and requested anonymity to share a private conversation.
It remained unclear whether Trump will still go to Poland, as he had been scheduled to do for two days ahead of his trip to Copenhagen in early September.
Trump’s public comments Wednesday struck a different tone than Tuesday night, when he said in a tweet that Denmark is “a very special country with incredible people” and he thanked Frederiksen for “being so direct.”
Speaking at a news conference in Copenhagen, Frederiksen said Trump’s decision to cancel his trip would not “change the character of our good relations,” adding that an invitation “for stronger cooperation on Arctic affairs still stands.”
Her measured remarks stood in contrast with Danish lawmakers from across the political spectrum and former government ministers who slammed the president’s behavior as juvenile, undiplomatic and insulting.
“It’s an insult from a close friend and ally,” said Michael Aastrup Jensen, a member of the Danish parliament with the influential center-right Venstre party. He said Trump’s interest in purchasing Greenland took the country by surprise and was initially widely considered to be a joke, before Danes realized the full extent of “this disaster.”
Jensen said Danish lawmakers felt misled and “appalled” by the president, who “lacks even basic diplomatic skills,” he said. “There was no word (ahead of time) about: ‘I want to buy Greenland and that’s why I’m coming.’ ”
On Twitter, Denmark’s former business minister, Rasmus Jarlov, wrote: “For no reason Trump assumes that (an autonomous) part of our country is for sale. Then insultingly cancels visit that everybody was preparing for.”
“Please show more respect,” he added.
The announcement of Trump’s change of plans came two days after he told reporters that owning Greenland “would be nice” for the United States strategically. Though Greenland’s status was initially not publicly cited as a scheduled topic during his visit to Denmark, the postponement of that trip over resistance to his acquisition plans now suggest that it was Trump’s central focus in the first place.
Danish officials, including the royal palace, had rushed to organize the presidential visit, which was announced on short notice.
Trump had planned to dine with Denmark’s queen before meetings in Copenhagen with Danish political leaders. Before news of Trump’s interest in Greenland, his visit was seen as an offbeat thank-you to a small country that has been a stalwart NATO member and that supported U.S. military actions.
Center-right lawmaker Jensen called the abrupt cancellation “an insult to the royal house.”
Other lawmakers cited by Danish media outlets questioned if the president was still welcome in the country.
“Trump lives on another planet. Self-sufficient and disrespectful,” wrote Pernille Skipper, a left-wing Danish politician, on Twitter.
Frederiksen joined a growing list of public figures — mostly women — whose words and deeds Trump has described as “nasty” since entering politics. Others include the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and British royal family member Meghan Markle.
During the 2016 GOP presidential primary, Trump also employed the term to describe some of his rivals, including Sen. Ted Cruz, whom Trump dubbed “Nasty Ted Cruz.”
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen comments on President Trump’s trip cancellation Wednesday in Copenhagen.