Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Trump’s sit-downs with foreign officials are ‘annoying’ some in Biden’s camp

By 37ci3 May1,2024

WASHINGTON – As Donald Trump As a parade of foreign dignitaries rolled out on the red carpet in recent weeks, some of President Joe Biden’s aides noted — and were embarrassed — what they saw as the former president playing the role of top contender.

In less than two months, Trump received the Polish president Andrzej DudaPrime Minister of Hungary Viktor OrbanFormer Prime Minister of Japan Taro Aso and David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who is now the acting Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom. He also spoke on the phone with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, and others.

It is not unusual for a party’s candidate to meet with foreign officials, but this is usually done abroad and with leaders below the level of president or prime minister. Trump made a show of bringing these dignitaries to their homes — Mar-a-Lago for some, Trump Tower for others — and treated them to some of the trappings of a state visit. It has caught the attention of some of Biden’s aides in particular, according to three people familiar with the frustrations.

In interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with aspects of US foreign policy and the Biden and Trump campaigns, a picture of an elegant power dance emerged. Biden and Trump are squabbling over who has more influence at home and abroad, while foreign leaders are trying to influence American politics, strengthen their positions at home and hedge their bets by siding with both candidates.

While the pomp and circumstance of the visits to Trump’s homes may not be official, the political and political ramifications of the meetings are real, and that has posed a challenge for Biden’s team.

“Officially, it could be helpful,” one longtime Biden ally said of Trump hearing from the likes of Duda and Cameron, who championed the Ukraine aid bill Biden signed last month. “From a political point of view, it’s irritating to see this happen because [Trump] trying to capitalize”.

Some of the same reasons Trump’s allies love the optics of his sit-down meetings. Like him defends himself These foreign officials — most of them far-right politicians — are facing criminal charges in federal and state courts, providing endorsements for Trump. The meetings could also suggest to voters that the world sees a Trump comeback as a real possibility.

One of Trump’s aides said, “They believe at some level [Trump] can win – will win.”

Trump campaign spokesman Brian Hughes said that world leaders have the ability to compare Biden and Trump.

“Foreign leaders and others are paying attention to this election for a number of reasons,” he said. “One is, first and foremost, the diminishment of our president on the world stage,” he said of Trump’s years in office compared to Biden’s.

Democrats tend to turn a blind eye to such talk. Biden’s overseas approval rating According to Gallup, it is stronger than during the Trump presidency. More countries and their leaders are not publicly addressing Trump. And at least in the Polish and British cases, they gave Trump a reason not to bring his congressional allies together. Draft law on aid to Ukraine. In other words, they were meeting him, at least in part, because they believed he could kill the financial deal.

Many global leaders fear another Trump administration, and European leaders in particular are “steeling themselves” for the possibility, a senior Biden administration official said. “They certainly know that he’s influencing the GOP, that he’s the de facto leader of the Republican Party.”

This appears to be a common thread uniting the disparate players seeking Trump’s world support — or neutrality — when it comes to U.S. support for Ukraine and NATO.

Trump’s influence on the far-right in Congress is believed to be so strong that Finland and Sweden have quietly lobbied him not to kneel down to join NATO in 2022. Trump’s campaign has refused to confirm or deny talks with NATO’s newest Scandinavian members.

Foreign leaders are also hedging their bets with Trump’s inner circle of aides and advisers, working through formal and informal channels to arrange meetings when heads of state do not directly contact the former president. After Trump recently met with one of America’s best allies, the country’s diplomat admitted to at least six contacts.

The dynamic reflects the difficulty of working with a former president who has a wide world of people working to mediate his access and is not afraid to sidestep.

Last month, House Speaker Mike Johnson met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago as an aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan began to make its way through Congress, as did Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a Trump ally. ., threatened to force a vote to partially oust Johnson over the measure. When Donald Trump Jr. criticized the $95 billion bailout in a tweet, the speaker sent a message to the former president’s eldest son to call him.

Johnson laid out arguments for the appropriations bill that he had previously made to various conservative skeptics, according to people familiar with the call. Trump Jr. made it clear he hoped for fewer tweets, without making a “direct request” to Trump or refusing to publicly fire him, according to one of the people familiar with the call. According to a second person familiar with the call, Trump Jr. had already decided to publicly scuttle the event, but listened to Johnson’s arguments.

The elder Trump, who has long questioned the wisdom of US strategy in the Russia-Ukraine war, has never publicly called for the aid package to be killed. But concerns among the Republican base about sending US money abroad, Trump’s criticism of the same, and disagreement over Democrats’ funding of Israel’s war against Hamas combined to delay the deal for months.

When the aid package finally cleared Congress last month with decisive votes — allowing Biden to sign it into law — the victory had a legion of supporters, including foreign leaders who appealed to Trump to keep his dust dry.

“President Duda is happy to see the Ukraine aid package pass Congress right after his meeting with Trump, and he would be happy to see his advocacy play a role in this change of heart,” Polish Embassy spokesman Nikodem Rachon said.

Of course, Biden and congressional leaders, who also met with Duda, were the main parents of the legislation.

A senior administration official played down any concerns from inside the White House about Trump’s meetings, perhaps in part because Biden has won on Ukraine defense funding.

“I don’t see that there’s a lot of pearl-clutching going on here,” the official said, suggesting the president’s re-election campaign may have a different calculus.

“Trump’s photo ops do little to erase his troubling rhetoric or his disastrous record as president as he consistently sides with dictators over democracy, undermines our allies and embarrasses our nation on the international stage,” Biden campaign spokesman Ammar Mussa said in a statement. . . “Donald Trump’s second term promises to be more dangerous than the first – he promises to be a dictator on day one, [Russian President] “Vladimir Putin is doing ‘whatever he wants’ across Europe and abandoning our allies to make Americans less safe at home.”

In addition to the Biden campaign team, a second and third senior administration official said they were irritated by the extent to which Trump brought them into his office, even though it is standard fare for a major-party nominee to meet with foreign officials. houses and meetings were given the decorations of state visits.

That angering Biden won’t stop Trump from receiving foreign officials seeking meetings, and aides said they expect the list to grow. But it can serve as a protective device for foreign officials.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan downgraded a planned meeting with Cameron in April after the British official met with Trump — a phone call rather than an in-person meeting — though the decision was attributed to that. scheduling conflict rather than curled feathers.

Duda has made separate trips to the United States in recent weeks as he seeks to emphasize the need for Washington to provide another round of aid to defend Ukraine against a Russian invasion. Duda visited the White House in March, where he met with leaders of both parties on Capitol Hill. But he waited until April to sit down with Trump.

“It didn’t actually happen at the same time because President Duda had an official meeting with President Biden in Washington,” Rachon said.

When he returned to the United States, Duda was given an extended photo opportunity in front of Trump Tower to tell Trump that Poland was on track to increase defense spending and explain his views on Ukraine. The two dined on steak at Trump’s apartment and discussed Ukraine, among other topics, according to people familiar with their meeting. Duda sought to emphasize the indispensability of U.S. support for Ukraine and made clear that even if European countries put more money into their defense — as Trump has demanded — U.S. support is essential to their security, according to one Trump campaign official.

In the end, Biden and European leaders won a political victory, but the political impact remains to be seen. Trump was able to use the meetings with foreign leaders to remind voters that he once canceled a presidential bid — and even suggested he was seen as a key ally by some foreign leaders as a criminal defendant.

“These leaders come and various legal measures are taken against them [former] the president did not obstruct anything,” said an aide to Trump’s election campaign. “They don’t care about public opinion at home. In many cases, they see it as a great positive thing to be seen with him.”

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By 37ci3

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