Trump and May hold hands outside the White House

Trump ‘turned red’ when staffers said he had missed a call from Putin, new documentary reveals

'Putin is the only man in the world who can destroy the United States, and I didn’t take his call,' US president complained to UK counterpart, Theresa May

Gino Spocchia
Tuesday 09 February 2021 20:17
Leer en Español

Donald Trump turned red when he was told Vladimir Putin phoned the White House after he was sworn-in as president, and was not put through to him, a new documentary reveals.

Mr Trump was told about the Russian president’s phone call amid an already awkward meeting with Theresa May, who was on a visit to Washington DC days after the US president was inaugurated in January 2017, when he lost his temper.

According to a BBC documentary airing on Wednesday, Mr Trump became angered when White House aides said Mr Putin had phoned but was not put through.

"Trump at this point looks not orange but red," said Fiona McLeod Hill, the then-Downing Street chief of staff, who describes the moment Mr Trump lost his temper in the three part series, Trump Takes on the World.

Follow live: Trump impeachment news and updates as trial set to begin

“He flipped, furious. He said, 'you’re telling me Vladimir Putin called the White House and you’re only telling me now during this lunch?'," said Ms McLeod Hill. “You could feel the tumbleweed just completely take over the entire lunch table and my toes were curling.”

Ms May, moments beforehand, asked the newly sworn-in US president whether or not he’d spoken with Mr Putin because he was mentioned on the 2016 campaign trail by Mr Trump.

She “wanted to talk to him [Trump] about Putin,” according to Kim Darroch, then-UK ambassador to the US who said: “She’d heard him say some quite positive things about his potential relationship with Putin during the campaign.”

“She wanted to tell him what she thought he [Putin] was like,” adds Mr Darroch.

Mr Trump, who was clearly angered about the missed phone call, then told Ms May that he could not believe he didn’t take the Russian leaders call.

“Vladimir Putin is the only man in the world who can destroy the United States, and I didn’t take his call," the UK prime minister was told by Mr Trump, whose shoulder's had "dropped".

The BBC documentary is a three-part series by the award-winning documentary maker Norma Percy, and covers Mr Trump's years at the White House.

Wednesday's episode also reveals how Ms May's aides were "surprised" by the US president holding the prime minister's hand before the lunch meeting, as well as his request to then-French president Francois Hollande to help him appoint advisers in his first days in office.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments