Donald Trump 'calls world leaders at awkward hours’ and ignores time zones

The president reportedly is not concerned with time zones  — he demands to speak with world leaders at any moment's notice

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 14 August 2018 11:39 BST
Donald Trump has a reportedly 'impulsive' way of contacting world leaders, demanding to speak with them at odd hours.
Donald Trump has a reportedly 'impulsive' way of contacting world leaders, demanding to speak with them at odd hours. (Reuters)

Donald Trump needs to be reminded on "a constant basis" about time zones when demanding his aides set up phone calls between him and world leaders, according to a new report.

The National Security Council (NSC) is forced to tell the president he cannot immediately speak to international powers at times due to the fact that they might be asleep, several current and former aides told Politico. Staffers reportedly often promise to schedule calls at more appropriate times, with NSC adviser HR McMaster reassuring Mr Trump, "We can try to set it up."

"He wasn't great with recognising that the leader of a country might be 80 or 85 years old and isn’t going to be awake or in the right place at 10:30 or 11 p.m. their time," a former NSC official under Mr Trump told the publication. “When he wants to call someone, he wants to call someone. He’s more impulsive that way. He doesn't think about what time it is or who it is."

The report refutes the idea that the president is unaware of how time zones work — rather, the notion implied by the White House is that Mr Trump doesn't like to wait to share his thoughts on international developments with the involved parties.

"The president has developed strong relationships and good rapports that are not only friendly, but also allow for candid conversations with many of America’s closest allies," Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. "He has even worked the phone with our competitors, injecting stability into bilateral relationships that are undergoing contentious, but necessary readjustments to place American interests first. Foreign leaders appreciate that the President is willing to take their calls day and night."

According to Ms Sanders, the president isn't worried about taking calls after hours.

Donald Trump and Theresa May holding hands before press conference at Chequers

"The President has made clear that when leaders reach out for calls, [aides should] set them up right away," she continued. "He has had foreign leaders calls very late at night and never wants another leader to wait before their call is returned."

The Independent has reached out to the White House for further comment.

The new Politico report goes on to detail Mr Trump’s alleged aloofness to international relations, geography and diplomatic customs. In it, an incident is described in which Mr Trump appeared to be unaware of how close Nepal and Bhutan — two countries he allegedly called "nipple" and "button" — are in relation to India.

"He didn’t know what those were. He thought it was all part of India," one source said. "He was like, ‘What is this stuff in between and these other countries?'"

The president’s approach to diplomatic relations can be described as "impulsive," according to former aides.

Mr Trump has at times appeared unaware of underlying facts in major developments; for example, he congratulated Italian Prime Minister on his "tremendous victory," although Giuseppe Conte was actually appointed to his position and never campaigned in the national election.

The report also alleges Mr Trump has made false claims about trade deficits between the US and its allies when speaking with other world leaders.

(REUTERS) (Reuters)

To be sure, Mr Trump has admit to challenging Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with false information about trade relations during a private fundraising event.

"Trudeau came to see me. He’s a good guy, Justin. He said, ‘No, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please,'" Mr Trump said during the event in an audio recording obtained by Washington Post. ”I said, ‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know. ... I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid. … And I thought they were smart. I said, ‘You’re wrong, Justin.’ He said, ‘Nope, we have no trade deficit.’ I said, ‘Well, in that case, I feel differently,’ I said, ‘but I don’t believe it.’ I sent one of our guys out, his guy, my guy, they went out, I said, ‘Check, because I can’t believe it.’

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