After two chaotic days at the NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump arrived in England to be feted with a gala dinner at Blenheim Palace. The US President entered the dinner holding hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May, a leader with whom Trump has had a tense relationship. The chummy atmosphere was quickly shattered: In an explosive interview with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper, Trump blasted May’s handling of Brexit and touted her political rival Boris Johnson as a future Prime Minister.
“The remarks cast an immediate pall over a visit that included a lavish dinner with business leaders Thursday night and plans to meet Queen Elizabeth II for afternoon tea on Friday,” reported The Washington Post’s William Booth, Karla Adam, and Josh Dawsey. The Post added that the interview’s publication around 11pm local time sent British papers scrambling to recast their front pages.
Trump’s European adventures garnered front page stories across the US as well, with the NYT’s print headline reading “Trump undercuts leader of Britain after NATO clash.” The Washington Post went with “Trump spectacle leaves NATO allies with ‘whiplash,’” while Murdoch’s New York Post declared “Donarchy in the UK.”
Leaders of the US’s European allies had expressed concerns about Trump’s trip in the days preceding the NATO meeting, worrying that antagonistic showings in Brussels and the UK could contrast with a friendly summit with Vladimir Putin on Monday. The early results of the trip appear to have bolstered those fears. “Coming after his combative performance in Brussels with leaders of the 28 other NATO nations, the day amounted to a global disruption tour unlike anything undertaken by any other recent American president,” wrote The New York Times’s Stephen Castle and Julie Hirschfeld Davis.
While cable news was somewhat distracted by the Peter Strzok hearings (more on that below), expect the weekend to be filled with analysis of Trump’s ongoing British trip and previews of what to expect from his upcoming meeting with Putin. The hyperbole about the crumbling of the post-WWII world order might be overblown, but there’s no doubt that what Trump is doing on the world stage will have a lasting impact.
Below, more on coverage of Trump abroad.
- NATO aftermath: Politico’s David M Herszenhorn and Jacopo Barigazzi write that “Trump’s wildly unpredictable performance over two days in Brussels left many European leaders convinced that there is little method to the American president’s rhetorical madness, and simply no way to anticipate what he might do next.”
- Cleanup on aisle Trump: Press Secretary Sarah Sanders attempted some damage control after the Sun interview landed, issuing a statement that read: “The President likes and respects Prime Minister May very much. As he said in his interview with the Sun she ‘is a very good person’ and he ‘never said anything bad about her.’ He thought she was great on NATO today and is a really terrific person. He is thankful for the wonderful welcome from the Prime Minister here in the U.K.”
- Careful planning: With massive protests against the US president planned across the UK, CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark and Nadine Schmidt report on the British government’s efforts to keep Trump away from the public.
- Looking ahead: The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser previews Monday’s Trump-Putin summit, writing that “beyond the allure of aggrandizement and the mystery of President Trump’s affinity for the Russian strongman, why the meeting is taking place now remains a mystery. Is the purpose to discuss arms control? Syria? Ukraine? To rehash the 2016 election? Remarkably, it’s not clear, and that in and of itself marks this as a most unusual summit.”
Other notable stories
- FBI agent Peter Strzok’s testimony before a joint committee hearing on Capitol Hill dominated Thursday’s cable news programming. I checked in a bit throughout the day, and had the same impression as The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez: the hearing was “filled with theatrics” from grandstanding lawmakers, and “Strzok was alternately praised for his impassioned defense of the bureau against accusations of partisanship and berated for his scathing text messages about then-presidential candidate Trump to former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was having an affair at the time.”
- Fox News’s Chris Wallace will interview Vladimir Putin following the Russian leader’s meeting with Donald Trump in Finland next week. FNC says the interview will air in its entirety next Monday, and that Wallace will focus on “the summit, Syria, Russian interference in the 2016 US election, arms control and where Putin sees Russia’s place in the world.”
- CJR’s Jonathan Peters reports on a recent warning from the Department of Homeland Security that cast photography of government buildings as “a sign of terrorism-related suspicious activity.” The DHS message instructed people to report such activity to local authorities. Peters writes that “a chilling effect often occurs when police show up and question a photographer for simply making pictures, even if no arrest or charges follow.”
- Weeks after AT&T took control of the company formerly known as Time Warner, the Department of Justice has filed notice that it is appealing a judge’s approval of the deal. CNN’s Hadas Gold reports that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told journalists that “his company was expecting the Justice Department to appeal, but are prepared and ‘not worried’ about it.”
- BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel writes about how Facebook proved it isn’t ready to handle fake news. The most recent example of the social network’s inept response centers around a question asked by CNN’s Oliver Darcy concerning the continued presence of InfoWars on the platform. Facebook spent much of Thursday trying and failing to provide a reasonable answer.
- The remnants of Gawker.com were sold to a holding company owned by the founder of Bustle and co-founder of Bleacher Report on Thursday, report The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Randles and Lukas I. Alpert. Bryan Goldberg said he has “no firm plans in place at the moment” for the future of the site and its archives, which he won for a reported $1.35 million.
- CJR’s Karen K. Ho profiles New Yorker writer Maria Konnikova, who began playing poker as part of her research for an upcoming book, and got so good at the game that she has turned pro. “No one could have expected that I would have succeeded at the rate that I did,” Konnikova tells Ho.