Donald Trump managed to damage relations today with two of America’s closest and most important allies, the United Kingdom and Germany.
First, came the White House doubling down on its bizarre and unfounded claim yesterday that British intelligence illegally spied on Trump during the campaign, at the request of President Obama.
The British version of the NSA, called GCHQ, issued a rare public statement strongly denying the accusation.
According to the British press, the White House was forced to formally apologize to the Brits last night, with both White House spokesman Sean Spicer and the new National Security Adviser, H. R. McMaster, personally apologizing to the British government officials.
But today, incredibly, Spicer said the White House did not regret publicly accusing the British of a crime based on no evidence whatsoever, and Trump, during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, refused to apologize, claiming he did nothing wrong since he was simply quoting Fox News.
The Brits continue to be unamused:
Full statement from Dominic Grieve, chair of Intelligence and Security Committee, on GCHQ/Trump. POTUS can’t ask for interception. pic.twitter.com/Fwx3TExYF1
— Tom Cheshire (@chesh) March 17, 2017
Trump specifically blamed Fox, telling the press to talk to them if they have problems with the claims being inaccurate. So Fox weighed in, distancing itself from Trump:
— Yashar (@yashar) March 17, 2017
Which leads us to the Merkel visit, another disaster for both Trump and America. It’s not entirely clear what happened behind closed doors when the two leaders met this morning. But during the Oval Office photo opportunity, when the leaders are traditionally supposed to shake hands all-smiles and chummy, Trump refused to shake Merkel’s hand, even though she appeared to ask him twice. During the entire photo opp, both leaders looked incredibly uncomfortable and unhappy.
Watch this video of the one-minute appearance. Painful:
Merkel: “Do you want to have a handshake?”
Trump: [crickets. scene.] pic.twitter.com/LLFxuyGDY0
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 17, 2017
Thing got only worse during their joint press conference later in the day. Trump again claimed that President Obama had spied on him, even though that allegation has now been thoroughly debunked, and then Trump joked that he and Merkel had something in common, since President Obama had spied on both of them. Merkel just looked at Trump, dumbfounded, while the room laughed nervously. Trump apparently was unaware that he is now President of the United States, and that he is now in charge of the US intelligence community. And joking about them spying on your guest is hardly appropriate.
Just look at Merkel’s face:
— Karl Frisch (@KarlFrisch) March 17, 2017
And here’s a slo-mo — look at the disdain in Merkel’s face:
Even for those of us who didn’t vote for Trump, and found him entirely unfit for office, we hoped there was a slight chance that he might grow in office, that he might be forced to show even a scintilla of respect for the office, being humbled by the power of the immense job that has been thrust upon him.
We were wrong.
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