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Trump's calls with world leaders, including Trudeau, are so bad that his advisers consider him a security risk: report

National Post Tuesday, 30 June 2020 ()
U.S. President Donald Trump’s phone calls with world leaders, including Canada’s Justin Trudeau, are so chaotic and abusive that some of his own top advisers consider him a threat to U.S. national security.

That’s according to a CNN report Tuesday , which reported on hundreds of classified chats that Trump has had with heads of state since he came to power, citing intelligence sources. At various turns, the calls saw him unprepared or, worse, outfoxed by the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan of Turkey. To other global leaders, including key U.S. allies, he was allegedly flat-out abusive.

In its reporting, CNN cited “White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations” as its sources for the background on the calls. Citing the the sources, CNN said those said to be alarmed by Trump’s conduct included H.R. McMaster and John Bolton (both one-time Trump national security leads); James Mattis, his former defence secretary; ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; and more. Unnamed officials said Trump was deluded, that his phone skills didn’t get better as his presidential term progressed, and that he was more interested in matters that could improve his own position rather than the security of the U.S.

Trump took the most calls from Turkey’e Erdogan, CNN reports, at times taking two calls to a direct line a week. To former U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May he was demeaning, telling her she was weak; while German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a widely popular figure among world leaders, was told she was “stupid” according to the report.

A source told CNN:

“Some of the things he said to Angela Merkel are just unbelievable: he called her ‘stupid,’ and accused her of being in the pocket of the Russians … He’s toughest (in the phone calls) with those he looks at as weaklings and weakest with the ones he ought to be tough with.”

The U.K.’s May, CNN reports, would be “flustered and nervous” when she talked with Trump between 2016 and 2019. He is said to have regularly badgered her on Brexit, the U.K.’s ongoing long divorce from the European Union, saying she had no backbone when dealing with the crisis. “He clearly intimidated her and meant to,” a source told CNN.

For the more seasoned Merkel, the Trump barbs were reported to be “water off a duck’s back,” and she would come back at him with facts and hard evidence to back up her viewpoints on things like cooperation between Germany and the U.S.

Merkel and May weren’t alone in being dragged, CNN reported: Trump is said to have “regularly bullied and disparaged other leaders of the western alliance during his phone conversations” including Trudeau. Others reported to have come in for alleged bullying included Emmanuel Macron of France, who would try to get Trump to come around to his thinking on security and the climate crisis, and Scott Morrison, the Australian PM.

To others like North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un and Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia — who was suspected by the CIA of ordering the murder in Turkey of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi — Trump is said to have bragged about his own wealth.

One official told CNN:

“With almost every problem, all it takes (in his phone calls) is someone asking him to do something as President on behalf of the United States and he doesn’t see it that way; he goes to being ripped off; he’s not interested in cooperative issues or working on them together; instead he’s deflecting things or pushing real issues off into a corner.”

Sarah Matthews, Trump’s deputy press secretary, told CNN in response to the report:

“President Trump is a world class negotiator who has consistently furthered America’s interests on the world stage. From negotiating the phase one China deal and the USMCA to NATO allies contributing more and defeating ISIS, President Trump has shown his ability to advance America’s strategic interests.”
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