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

National Post Staff, Published Jun 30, 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 by Carl Woodward that references hundreds of classified chats that Trump has had with heads of state since he came to power, and cites intelligence sources. At various turns, the calls saw him unprepared or worse outfoxed by the likes of presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Erdogan of Turkey. To other global leaders, including key U.S. allies, he was reportedly flat-out abusive.

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

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 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 others. Unnamed officials said Trump was deluded, and that he was more interested in matters that could improve his personal position rather than the security of the U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump uses a mobile phone during a roundtable discussion on the reopening of small businesses in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Trump took the most calls from Turkey’s Erdogan, CNN reports, at times taking two calls a week to a direct line. 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, Trump’s barbs were “water off a duck’s back” and she would come back at him with facts and hard evidence to back her view on matters such as cooperation between Germany and the U.S.

Merkel and May weren’t alone in being verbally abused, 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.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison shake hands during a visit to Pratt Industries plant opening in Wapakoneta, Ohio on September 22, 2019. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

In the calls with leaders that included Trudeau, Trump reflexively aired a grievance with the nation in question, regardless of the call’s purpose. “Everything was always personalized, with everybody doing terrible things to rip us off — which meant ripping ‘me’ — Trump — off. He couldn’t — or wouldn’t — see or focus on the larger picture,” an American official said.

To others such as 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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