Politico ^ | February 8, 2017 | Tara Palmeri, Kenneth P. Vogel, Josh Dawsey and Nahal Toosi
President Donald Trump spent much of a recent phone call with French President Francois Hollande veering off into rants about the U.S. getting shaken down by other countries, according to a senior official with knowledge of the call, creating an awkward interaction with a critical U.S. ally.
While the Hollande call Jan. 28 did touch on pressing matters between the two countries — namely the fight against the Islamic State — Trump also used the exchange to vent about his personal fixations, including his belief that the United States is being taken advantage of by China and international bodies like NATO, the official said.
At one point, Trump declared that the French can continue protecting NATO, but that the U.S. “wants our money back,” the official said, adding that Trump seemed to be “obsessing over money.”
“It was a difficult conversation, because he talks like he’s speaking publicly,” the official said. “It’s not the usual way heads of state speak to each other. He speaks with slogans, and the conversation was not completely organized.”
The revelations about the unconventional call are only the latest in a series of leaked accounts of Trump’s calls with foreign leaders that are generating increasing doubts about the new president’s style of diplomacy at a time of global uncertainty. Diplomats and politicians across the spectrum and around the world are worried that Trump’s seemingly unstructured and personality-driven approach to dealing with foreign leaders risks alienating traditional allies and emboldening foes.
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I post this primarily because this is something that is infuriating me - the leaks that are coming out of this Administration.
There is no way to even know if this is true, but let's go on the premise that it is for a minute.
As far as the substance of the call, we know Trump is not a typical politician. He's a business man who has made deals and had negotiations this way his entire life. More to the point, though, there is nothing that he said that is even concerning to me. France is failing to meet its monetary goal for NATO, and we know that Trump is tired of the US shouldering that burden. My guess as to why he brought China into it is using it as an example (as he said many times since launching a campaign) the U.S. often gets ripped off or the raw end of the deal by other countries.
Trump and the White House have so far brushed off the concerns, which spiked after reports emerged that he warned Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto that he might send troops to Mexico to clear out the “bad hombres down there” and that he argued with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a prior agreement with the Obama administration to resettle refugees from a camp in Australia, saying that Turnbull is giving him “the next Boston bombers.”
These again. Let's take both:
The White House and Mexico denied that Trump was intending to invade Mexico. There was talk of Trump sending help to get rid of "bad hombres" ie gangs and cartels, but to say he literally threatened a war with Mexico is ridiculous. As far as Australia, Trump had every right to be pissed at the shoddy deal dumped on him by Australia and the Obama Administration. Australia has kept some of these people detained for up to three years in poor conditions and then, instead of taking them themselves, they ask President Trump to take them right at the time he has imposed a ban on people from countries represented by said refugees. The media isn't mad at Australia - they are mad at Trump. Makes no sense, but that's our press.
Moving along, we have a "senior official with knowledge of the call" who leaked this. Does that mean someone within Trump's close orbit - meaning someone he trusts is leaking this? Does this mean one of the staffers who was trusted by Trump's inner circle to handle this? This could be possibly some establishment Republican who wormed his/her way in and is looking to destroy Trump. OR could this be some establishment/Obama holdover from the state department?
Evidence it's the state department:
Veterans at the State Department are also worried about Trump’s brash style in dealing with world leaders and his early forays into foreign policy.
The phone calls to foreign leaders from France, Germany, Mexico, Russia and Japan during Trump’s first week in office came with little guidance from the State Department, angering some at the agency, which is accustomed to briefing presidents extensively on geopolitical currents before the calls happen.
I recall when he was President-elect getting articles that they were unhappy that Trump wasn't getting "guidance" from them. Why would Trump get extensive advice from Obama's state department when he has criticized Obama's handling of global affairs?
State Department officials say there’s little respect at Foggy Bottom for Trump’s Twitter diplomacy, where longtime foreign policy hands find themselves simultaneously frustrated and relieved by the fact that they are limited in their ability to go out and try to clean up Trump’s diplomatic mess because of all the vacancies at the department.
They aren't happy with Trump, they don't like Trump, and I would imagine there is a lot of swamp/establishment staff. This environment is rife for leaks.
The article talks about Tillerson and how they seem to find him reassuring. He doesn't have his subordinates in place yet.
He has his work cut out for him, though. According to the State official, the department is “on edge more than I’ve ever seen it, and I’ve worked here for more than two decades.” Officials have even begun communicating covertly with each other, afraid the administration will listen in on them.
Afraid the Administration will listen in? You're only afraid of someone overhearing if you're saying things that you don't want them to hear. What they are saying has to be counter to Trump Administration policy!
This person said that more people wanted to sign the dissent memo blasting Trump’s recent executive order on refugees and immigrants, which ultimately attracted the signatures of nearly 1,000 State Department employees. But the official said there “was confusion on how to sign it, and whether it was going to cost you your job.”
If they don't want to work for Trump, then why stay on? The state department works under the President and advises the President and helps accomplish the President's foreign policy objectives. It sounds like these people want their jobs all the while not wanting to work for Trump, and in the case of this letter (and possibly leaks), actively trying to undermine him.
The article says that Tillerson doesn't have his subordinates in place yet. I hope that if these leaks are coming from the state department, that Trump instructs Tillerson and his subordinates to root these people out. You can't have leaks like this. They are exposing private info and being used by the media to attack Trump.