July 16, 2018
As the POTUS and FLOTUS prepared to meet Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on July 13, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May was still recovering from an icy meeting with Trump at the NATO summit in Brussels—and from the president’s disparaging comments about her Brexit strategy in a newspaper interview published the same morning.
In a world exclusive interview with The Sun—characterized as “insulting” by the British public—President Trump said that May’s Brexit strategy was “soft” and that, “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.”
He also “tore into” London Mayor Sadiq Khan “for not standing up to terrorists,” and insisted that former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson would make “a great Prime Minister.”
Informed of the diplomatic damage he had done, the president then tried to walk it back at a press conference at Chequers, the prime minister’s 16th-century official country residence, The New York Times reported.
The U.S.-based news outlet described Trump’s attitude as “by turns defiant, fawning and dismissive about the interview,” saying, “He first tried to deny he had criticized the prime minister and blamed the embarrassing episode on the news media. When that rang hollow, he then tried to compensate by lavishing Mrs. May with compliments and, in the end, claimed that the slights were so insignificant that she had waved off his attempts at an apology.”
“I didn’t criticize the prime minister; I have a lot of respect for the prime minister,” Mr. Trump told reporters during an outdoor news conference after he and Mrs. May had met for talks. He blamed “fake news,” claiming the report — in a right-wing, pro-Brexit, Murdoch-owned tabloid — had omitted his praise of Mrs. May. “I think she’s doing a terrific job, by the way,” Mr. Trump said, calling her “tough” and “capable.”
According to the Times report, President Trump admitted, “I did give her a suggestion — I wouldn’t say advice — and I think she found it maybe too brutal. As far as negotiating the deal, I probably would have done what my suggestion was to
Research contact: @JulieHirschfeldDavis