Eleven months ago, ahead of his first official visit to the U.K. since taking office, Donald Trump sat down with The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper. It quickly became apparent that this was not a wise move: the American president ended up insulting British Prime Minister Theresa May and caused a minor international incident by praising one of her prominent critics.
What’s more, the article appeared online during a gala dinner that May had thrown in Trump’s honor.
As Politico noted yesterday, it was hard not to feel a sense of déjà vu over the weekend.
On the eve of his first state visit, President Donald Trump is giving British officials reason to believe this latest overseas trip will be no different from his disruptive foray into local politics when he was here last July.
The normally unpredictable president provoked déjà vu on Saturday when he granted an explosive interview to The Sun, a newspaper owned by Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch. Weighing in on a series of British issues, Trump insisted that the outgoing prime minister, Theresa May, could have “built up a big advantage” for the U.K. during Brexit negotiations if only she had heeded his advice, and he described Meghan Markle, an American actress who became the Duchess of Sussex upon marrying Prince Harry last May, as “nasty” for once referring to him as misogynistic.
Also with The Sun, the Republican proceeded to weigh in on the race to replace May as prime minister – a wildly inappropriate move – before adding, “Now I think I am really, I hope, I am really loved in the U.K.”
Last night, the American president made matters just a little worse, telling reporters at the White House that he wouldn’t meet with London Mayor Sadiq Khan and doesn’t “think much of” him.
Before arriving on British soil, Trump continued the harangue on Twitter, calling the London mayor a “stone cold loser” who’s done a “terrible job.” The Republican proceeded to mock Khan’s height.
In case this isn’t painfully obvious, Trump is the beneficiary of a formal state visit in one of the United States’ closest international allies. Decency, decorum, and common sense suggest the American president would go out of his way to demonstrate his gratitude for the honor.
And yet, Donald Trump has demonstrated – again – that he simply cannot help himself.
Postscript: During his brief Q&A with reporters last night, someone asked Trump, “Mr. President, is it appropriate for you to be weighing in on Brexit and the Prime Minister, who should be the next Prime Minister?”
He replied, “Well, people ask me questions – like you; you’re asking me a question. Don’t ask me the question if you don’t want me to talk about it.”
The idea of showing restraint and choosing not to make provocative on-the-record comments remains foreign to him.