Balance of Power: Tension in SicilyBy , , and
Donald Trump has saved the worst for last on his first foreign trip.
The U.S. president is in Sicily today for a G-7 summit that will involve exactly the kinds of lengthy multi-lateral debates he most dislikes. He seems happier with things like the arms-for-investment deal he struck in Saudi Arabia at the start of the trip.
Things have become chillier since then. He told NATO leaders yesterday that they were cheapskates -- he even gave one of them a little shove as they milled around for a family photo. Angela Merkel did not look impressed.
The G-7's Italian hosts are trying to make sure Trump’s first summit passes without a major bust-up. They've focused the meeting on counter-terrorism, which is something all seven can agree on after the recent bombing in Manchester.
Still, this G-7 is less predictable than most, because the big issues usually agreed long in advance remain unresolved. No one knows what the U.S. stance on climate change is, while there is a six-to-one dispute over the meaning and value of free trade. Trump’s the minority. For Europe, the next 3 ½ years are starting to feel like an eternity.
Republican charged with assault wins in Montana | Republican businessman Greg Gianforte won a special House election in Montana, just one day after being charged with assault for allegedly bodyslamming a reporter who asked him about repealing Obamacare. His win was narrower than originally expected but welcome news for Republicans, as the first electoral test of how Trump's efforts to craft a new health-care bill are playing in the country.
Trump son-in-law is FBI target, paper says | The Washington Post story last week that the FBI's Russia investigation was focused on someone inside the White House led to a guessing game in Washington: who? The Post came back with the answer: Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law/senior adviser. The paper said agents are looking at Kushner due to the extent of his contacts, which included meetings with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow. Kushner's lawyer said he'll cooperate with the probe.
Merkel gives Turkey an ultimatum | Merkel threatened to pull German reconnaissance jets from Turkey, escalating a dispute between the two NATO allies. At issue are troop visits by German lawmakers, which Germany says Turkish officials are blocking. Relations between Merkel and Erdogan have cooled over a range of issues, including his expansion of powers after a failed coup.
The not-so Special Relationship | Winston Churchill's concept of the “special relationship” has been the basis of trans-Atlantic relations for more than 70 years. But after details of the Manchester bombing were leaked to U.S. media, British officials are now questioning how far they can trust their allies in Washington. Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday spoke of “strong relations” between the countries, but she didn't call them special
Should May be worried? | The British prime minister was expected to coast to victory in next month's election, with most polls giving her a double-digit lead. So it was a surprise yesterday when the Times newspaper said the opposition Labour Party had narrowed the gap to just five points. More polls out this week may show the result as outlier, but it was enough to rattle markets on Friday and send the pound down 0.5 percent against the dollar.
Montenegro premier brushes off Trump shove | Prime Minister Dusko Markovic says he didn't even notice that Trump used his hand to push him out of the way before NATO's family photo yesterday. It's only natural that the American president should be in the front row, Markovic said. “He belongs there.”
And finally... Gianforte's victory in Montana may have surprised some. But history shows that voters can be very forgiving. Former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott punched a heckler in the face just before his party's landslide victory in 2001. Australian lawmaker Mark Latham broke a taxi driver's arm after an argument about a fare. He went to become leader of the opposition. In Bulgaria, nationalist leader Volen Siderov has attacked reporters, students, policemen and aircraft staff during his career. His party is now in government.