everybody hates trump!

Trump calls Trudeau ‘two-faced’, cancels press conference and leaves NATO summit early after video of world leaders making fun of him
Jon Sharman, Independent, Dec 4 2019

Donald Trump has reacted furiously to footage of world leaders apparently making fun of him, calling Justin Trudeau “two-faced” then cancelling a press conference and cutting short his attendance at a NATO summit. Trudeau was caught apparently joking about Trump’s erratic diplomatic style with Johnson, Macron and Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night. At his joint press conference with Angela Merkel on Wednesday afternoon, Trump was asked whether he had seen the clip, in which his international counterparts appeared to joke about his explosive press conference with Emmanuel Macron, and responded:

Well, he’s two-faced! Honestly, with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy, I find him to be a very nice guy, but you know the truth is that I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2%, and I guess he’s not very happy about it. He’s not paying 2% and he should be paying 2%! It’s Canada! They have money and they should be paying 2% so I called him out on that, and I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it but that’s the way it is! Look, I’m representing Pindostan, and he should be paying more than he’s paying, and he understands it!

Pres Trump said that after a scheduled meeting with Danish leaders this afternoon he would “probably” return directly to Faschingstein. But he said he would not hold the press conference that had been scheduled for 3.30 pm, saying he had now conducted enough of them. The revised schedule apparently also meant a planned meeting with Italy’s PM would not take place. Nonetheless, NATO had had a “tremendous” two days, with leaders pledging to contribute more money to the alliance, Mr Trump insisted. “There’s great spirit.” Trump & Melania had previously been due to leave London at 5.05 pm this afternoon, following the press conference.

Trump cuts short NATO summit after fellow leaders’ hot-mic video
Patrick Wintour, Rowena Mason, Groon, Dec 4 2019

A furious Donald Trump cut short his attendance at the NATO summit in London after a group of leaders including Boris Johnson was caught on video at Buckingham Palace, ridiculing him for staging lengthy press conferences. The notoriously thin-skinned Trump cancelled a planned press conference and branded Justin Trudeau “two-faced” after he was revealed on video leading the laughter at Trump’s expense together with other Pindo vassals. Trump said Trudeau was probably angry because he called him out over Canada’s failure to meet the NATO target of spending 2% of its GDP on defence, a target that has developed a shibboleth status in the president’s eyes and underlines his transactional approach to the western defence alliance. Footage emerged late on Tuesday that appears to show world leaders joking about Trump at the summit, which has been marked by sharp disagreements over spending and future threats, including China, and Turkey’s role in the alliance. The video shows Trudeau, Johnson, Macron, Dutch PM Rutte and Princess Anne at the Buckingham Palace event on Tuesday evening. Johnson asks Macron:

Is that why he was late?

Trudeau interjects:

He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah! He announced …

He is cut off by Macron, who speaks animatedly to the group. Macron’s back is to the camera and his words are inaudible. After an edited cut in the film, the footage later shows an incredulous Trudeau telling the group:

You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.

Trump was sitting alongside Merkel on Wednesday when a reporter asked about Trudeau’s apparent remarks. Trump said of Trudeau”

Well, he’s two-faced. I find him to be a very nice guy but, you know, the truth is that I called him out the fact that he’s not paying 2%, and I can see he’s not very happy about it. He’s not paying 2% and he should be paying 2%. Canada! They have money!

Apparently aware of how his actions would be interpreted, Trump was then himself caught on a hot mic saying:

Oh, and then you know what they’ll say: “He didn’t do a press conference! He didn’t do a press conference!” That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced, you know that.

Trump later tweeted:

Overall the episode is only likely to underline the sense that the supposed leader of the free world is privately viewed with a mixture of mirth and alarm. Asked about the video footage at his own press conference, Johnson shook his head and said:

That’s complete nonsense. I don’t know where that’s come from.

Pressed again, he said:

I really don’t know what’s being referred to there.

Johnson’s aides would not say whether he had seen the video, but claimed he had been “very busy” at the summit. Privately, Downing Street will be relieved that the unpredictable Trump did not face the international media again, fearing that under questioning he might rescind his commitment not to include the NHS in any future trade talks or repeat his criticisms of the terms of Johnson’s Brexit deal. With Trump seen as electorally toxic in the UK in the final days of the election campaign, it is notable that few public images of the just the two men together have been released, despite the pair attending events at both Buckingham Palace and No 10 yesterday, as well as having their own bilateral meeting. Johnson also sidestepped the opportunity to praise Trump personally when asked if he thought that the president was a good leader for the west and for Britain, replying by praising Pindostan as a nation. Trudeau also tried to play down the laughter at the president’s expense, saying:

We had a great meeting yesterday between me and the president. Last night I made a reference to the fact there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with Pres Trump, I was happy to take part in it, but it was certainly notable.

Trump had startled his aides on Monday by holding two lengthy, freewheeling impromptu press conferences, one with Stoltenberg and another with Macron. At the first one, he launched a tirade against Macron, describing his assertion that NATO was “brain dead” as “very, very nasty” and “insulting.” At the second event, he was personally polite to Macron but clashed with him over France’s refusal to take back its foreign fighters from Syria, and then threatened trade sanctions against countries that did not reach the NATO defence target, so putting Germany in his sights. Until his abrupt walkout, Trump had shown a new relative warmth to NATO, claiming credit for the recent rise in European defence spending and praising the institution in the face of Macron’s criticisms. He even said:

There’s a great spirit. A lot of people are putting up a lot of money.

The comments had marked a change of tone from sentiments he voiced at the outset of his presidency, when he dismissed the alliance as obsolescent and questioned the value of article 5, the collective defence clause that requires Nato members to come to each other’s military aid if under attack. It is not the first time Trump has had a run-in with Trudeau. Last year he withdrew Pindo support for a G7 declaration prepared for a summit in Quebec. Trudeau’s hard work in preparing the communique unravelled after Trump, who left early, tweeted from his plane that Trudeau was “very dishonest and weak” following criticism from the prime minister of Pindo steel and aluminium tariffs. As a result, France at this year’s G7 tried to pare the communique down to a minimum. Trump is due to chair the next G7 at Camp David next year. He had originally scheduled to hold the high security event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, but agreed to shift the venue in wake of criticism that it was inappropriate to use his own property for such a purpose.

In one moment of unscripted exasperation, Macron showed Trump what the world thinks of him
Clémence Michallon, Independent, Dec 5 2019

I didn’t expect the meeting between Macron and Trump at NATO this morning to resonate with me on a deep, personal level. Why should I? We’ve seen it all before, haven’t we? World leaders (usually white men) sit down and speak in front of TV cameras, assuming the strangely spread-out, tie-between-the-thighs stance that passes as a power pose these days, at various summits across the world, and we feel nothing. Words are exchanged. Headlines are written. The world moves collectively on. But today, something different happened. Macron arrived, having previously decried NATO’s “brain death,” a comment he stood by in front of Trump, who had already publicly called it “nasty.” He sat beside the president, perhaps somewhat uncomfortably, and they started what should have been an unremarkable conversation. But then the topic of Daesh fighters came up, and Macron snapped. It was a presidential snap, but a snap nonetheless. After a journalist asked whether France should bring French Daesh fighters back home, Trump turned to Macron and jokingly asked him:

Would you like some nice Daesh fighters? You can take everyone you want!

Once upon a time, the POTUS joking about Daesh fighters would have been headline news, but Trump has been in the White House for almost three years and we’ve grown sadly accustomed to such highjinks. But what does “you can take everyone you want” even mean? Why did Trump think this quip was in any way appropriate, mere days after Daesh claimed responsibility for the London Bridge knife attack? Did he really expect Macron to go along with this baffling attempt at a joke? Did he actually expect a laugh, or was this barely concealed aggression? For a moment, cast aside these obvious questions and focus instead on the French president’s retort. Eyebrows raised, three deeps creases on his forehead, Macron urged the supposed leader of the free world, in his trademark heavily accented English:

Let’s be serious! It is true you have fighters coming from Europe, but this is a tiny minority and I think the number one priority, because it’s not finished, is to get rid of Daesh and terrorist groups. This is our number one priority, and it’s not yet done.

French people tend to be wary of what they call petites phrases in politics. Basically, petites phrases are tiny, memorable snippets taken from famous political addresses. Those flourishes of rhetoric usually appear in newspaper headlines precisely because they are intended to. They then bleed into common parlance, becoming shorthand for a moment in political history. Macron’s “let’s be serious” deserves a prime spot in the petites phrases pantheon, despite barely counting as rhetoric. Those three words were the apparent result of unscripted exasperation, something you rarely get to witness in politics, particularly in a context as official as a NATO summit. They can also be conveniently applied to all of Trump’s presidency so far. Brett Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court? Let’s be serious. Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest ever? Let’s be serious. There were “very fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville? Let’s be serious. The travel ban? “Covfefe”? Ukraine? Children getting detained at the Mexican border? Let’s! Be! Serious! There was a time when Macron seemed determined to foster what the NYT deemed an “unlikely friendship” with his Pindo counterpart. Trump’s visit to Paris on Bastille Day 2017, when Macron pledged that “nothing” would ever separate France from Pindostan, is a standout moment from that time. And in Apr 2018, Trump greeted Macron with an air-kiss on the cheek, then said of the French president:

I like him a lot!

As a French national living in Pindostan, watching Macron cozying to Trump always left a bitter taste in my mouth. Trump had been in the White House for four months when Macron assumed office in Paris. Macron’s apparent determination to make nice with Trump seemed hopelessly naive and wholly misguided. He reminded me in a way of the people who swore shortly after Trump’s election that the former real estate tycoon wouldn’t be that bad. Well, guess what? He was that bad. In many ways, he’s been even worse than we thought. And it seems that Macron has finally reckoned with that one fundamental truth: there’s no making friends with Trump. All you can do is stare in disbelief, furrow your brow and ask him to please be serious, Mr President, we’re at a NATO summit talking about Isis for God’s sake. Of course, it’s important to remember that it’s infinitely easy to look presidential next to someone as volatile as Trump. That’s why it’s always strange for me to comment on Macron in an international context. The man isn’t incredibly popular in France right now, with good reason. We could talk about the yellow vests movement or Macron’s incredibly problematic rhetoric on work and unemployment, to only cite two examples. I remain convinced that we need to hold our politicians to higher standards than just “better than Trump.” Still, Macron’s decision to refute Trump’s claims about Daesh, to be brave enough to call him out for spreading falsehoods about Daesh being “done” and to face the problem of his lack of seriousness and political gravity head-on was undeniably statesmanlike. The era of cringey Bastille Day meetings and awkward air-kisses seems over, and to that I say: hourra.

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