Earlier today, President Trump and Prime Minister May held a joint press conference at Chequers. This transcript comes from the British Embassy, and appears to be sanitized in that it doesn’t include Trump’s exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta:
After criticizing CNN, Pres. Trump declines to take a question from a CNN reporter at joint presser with Theresa May. "CNN is fake news. I don't take questions from CNN."
— ABC News (@ABC) July 13, 2018
Acosta and his network have made war on President Trump, and I don’t know why he shouldn’t respond in kind. Trump brings clarity to the battle between the Democratic Party media and the rest of America.
The whole press conference is interesting, but I want to highlight some of the exchanges on Russia. President Trump will meet with Vladimir Putin on Monday.
What three or four things to you hope to achieve in your meeting with Putin?
Donald Trump: We go into the meeting with Putin following the tremendous NATO meeting. It was testy at the beginning, but then everyone agreed to come together and the U.K. fully adhered to it. We left that meeting more unified and wealthier as a group than ever before. So we go in strong.
We will talk about a number of things: Ukraine, Syria, the Middle East, nuclear proliferation. We are massively modernizing and fixing and buying and it’s just a devastating technology. It is a very bad policy. We have no choice. We are massively big and they are very big and I’ll be talking about nuclear proliferation. I will absolutely bring up ‘meddling.‘ Hopefully we will have a very good relationship with Russia, China and other countries.
As Steve noted here, proliferation is a longstanding concern of Trump’s. He is right about NATO being wealthier than ever, as his tough talk at the NATO summit produced billions in additional commitments.
You spent the week criticizing NATO allies and taking on PM May – are you giving Putin the upper hand by challenging alliances?
Donald Trump: That’s such dishonest reporting from NBC, which is possibly worse than CNN. We have left NATO with more money, more unity and more spirit than it has possibly ever had. We had people who weren’t paying their bills or following commitments. When you look at what we’ve done in terms of Russia, I bet they’re saying ‘I wish Trump wasn’t the victor in that election.’ We have been extremely tough on Russia, including when the PM called after a horrible thing happened here. She asked if I’d do something and we expelled 60 people — Germany did three. The fake news doesn’t want to talk about it. We have been very strong on Russia. If I had a relationship with Russia or with China it would be good. If we get along with countries, that’s a good thing.
Classic Trump: he is right that his administration has been “extremely tough on Russia,” which the fake news “doesn’t want to talk about.” At the same time, he wants good relations with all countries, including Russia and China.
Putin will see the headlines?
Donald Trump: The headline he sees isn’t what happened in the morning, but in the afternoon when we came together as one. Thirty-four billion dollars more was raised since I became president of NATO.
Some people have suggested relations between the US and Russia are at their lowest point since the cold war – how can relations improve if Putin continues to occupy Crimea?
Donald Trump: I think I would have a very good relationship with Putin if we spend time together. After watching the rigged witch-hunt yesterday, I think it really hurts our country and our relationship with Russia. I hope we can have a good relationship with Russia.
Trump is right again. The “rigged witch-hunt”–a fair description–makes it harder for the administration to conduct a normal foreign policy vis-a-vis Russia. Do the Democrats care? Of course not.
Even if it occupies another country?
Donald Trump: President Obama failed very badly with Crimea — I wouldn’t have done that. He took it over during the Obama administration. We’ll have to see what happens … I’m not bad at doing things. Let’s see what happens. This was an Obama disaster. If I were president, he would not have taken over.
How do you fix it?
Donald Trump: We’ll see what happens. If I knew, I wouldn’t tell you, because it would put us at a disadvantage. Crimea was another bad hand, like North Korea, but we’re doing very well there. We will look at it just as we’ve looked at other disasters we’ve taken over.
Again, classic Trump. He is right about Obama. Whether he can do much with the Crimea “disaster” remains to be seen, but most of us have learned not to bet against him.