Fawning on Putin and haranguing Theresa May: Trump's 'troubling' calls to world leaders revealed by White House officials

‘People are numb to him blurting out something he shouldn’t,’ says source

Peter Stubley
Saturday 05 October 2019 17:09
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Donald Trump admits Vladimir Putin 'probably' involved in poisonings 'but it's not in our country'

Donald Trump “fawned” on dictators, “harangued” the leaders of longstanding allies and hectored one to help him win the Nobel Peace Prize, White House sources have claimed.

According to reports, the US president repeatedly cast doubt on Russian involvement in the Salisbury nerve agent attacks during a phone call with Theresa May.

The US president disputed the UK’s conclusion that it was “highly likely” President Vladimir Putin’s government orchestrated the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March 2018.

“Trump was totally bought into the idea there was credible doubt about the poisoning,” an official told The Washington Post. “A solid 10 minutes of the conversation is spent with May saying it’s highly likely and him saying he’s not sure.”

Mr Trump also “harangued” Ms May about the size of the UK’s contribution to Nato during the same call in the summer of 2018, it is claimed.

By contrast his first phone call to the Russian president was described by officials as “obsequious” and “fawning”, with Mr Trump telling Mr Putin that he was a “great leader”. In a later conversation he asked the former KGB officer for advice on befriending North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Details of the calls emerged as Mr Trump faces an impeachment inquiry over his attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals ahead of the 2020 election.

The investigation was sparked by the release of a CIA whistleblower complaint and a transcript of the president’s phone conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Mr Trump’s “embarrassing” calls to world leaders regularly horrified staff in his administration, and occasionally prompted officials to pass him notes or even mute the phone mid-conversation in an attempt to stop him going off topic.

“People who could do things for him – he was nice to,” one former security official said. “Leaders with trade deficits, strong female leaders, members of Nato – those tended to go badly.”

Mr Trump’s attempts to flatter world leaders included vowing to win Saudi Arabia a place on the G7 and promising the president of Peru he would send a military cargo plane overnight.

He even congratulated the president of the Phillippines, Rodrigo Duterte, for an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”. Mr Duterte’s campaign against drug dealers has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings since he came to power in 2016.

In another call, Mr Trump reportedly pestered Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe for help in getting him a Nobel Prize.

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But by the time of the president’s crucial phone call with Ukraine’s leader in July, staff had started to become used to his “troubling” behaviour, according to former officials.

“People had gotten really numb to him blurting out something he shouldn’t have,” one said.

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