Donald Trump sat down with The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, for an interview earlier this week, knowing that its report would be published soon after the American president arrived in the U.K. for his first official visit since taking office. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders notified British officials about the interview and suggested The Sun’s report wouldn’t be a problem.
It is, however, an enormous problem.
President Donald Trump continued to attack America’s European allies on Thursday – this time aiming at the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May a day before they are due to meet in London. […]
In the interview, Trump insisted that he would have negotiated the [Brexit] deal differently than May, and he said that he had provided the prime minister his “views on what she should do and how she should negotiate.”
“I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me.”
The report in the British tabloid was published late yesterday, and it wasn’t long before the piece became the basis for an international incident. In addition to condemning the prime minister’s Brexit policy, Trump also suggested May’s approach would adversely affect a future trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom.
“[I]f they do that, I would say that would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States,” Trump said.
Adding insult to injury, as the prime minister’s government faces a political crisis, the president took time to praise Boris Johnson, who just resigned as Britain’s foreign secretary, which had a destabilizing effect on May’s leadership.
Johnson, Trump said, “would be a great prime minister.”
Politico noted that the report appeared online “part-way through a grandiose gala dinner at Blenheim Palace, which May had thrown on Thursday in the president’s honor” – a dinner at which Trump arrived late “leaving the prime minister and her husband standing alone in front of the palace in silence.”
Instead of showing gratitude for his host’s graciousness, the American president’s on-the-record comments had the effect of insulting May when she’s already vulnerable.
Stepping further back, Trump’s caustic comments follow a combative performance at the NATO summit, which began with the Republican admonishing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government in Germany in ways that didn’t really make sense.
In nearly every instance, U.S. officials go out of their way to avoid inserting themselves into the domestic politics of foreign countries, but Trump has done the opposite, with inexplicable aggression, twice in the last few days.
If the American president’s goal was to further weaken ties between the United States and some of our closest allies, this week’s foreign excursion is proving to be a great success.