By this point, we really shouldn’t be surprised by anything Donald Trump says or does. In the first year of his presidency, he’s already fired the head of the FBI while there were investigations into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia, he supported an accused child-molester Alabama Senate candidate and he failed to condemn neo-Nazis after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
You’d think we’d have lost our capacity for despairing groans but, alas, the White House freak show keeps on rolling, like a clown putting on a circus act for the bedraggled survivors in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
And while his latest move might not be his most egregious, it’s still pretty ridiculous and so baffling that it’s almost incomprehensible. The President has now confirmed he is cancelling his upcoming visit to the United Kingdom not because, as expected, he would likely face enormous crowds of protesters, but because of a bad property deal with the new US embassy in the capital. Confused? So are we.
Here’s what he tweeted early this morning: “Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
Instead, Trump is expected to send America’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – a man who reportedly once called his boss a “fucking moron”.
And as with all of Trump’s incoherent behaviour, it doesn’t make any sense at all. In fact, the decision to move the US embassy in London was not taken by Obama but by his predecessor George W. Bush as far back as 2006. Well, it was pretty obvious that Trump was speaking out of his behind.
And, as previously mentioned, there was already huge resistance to Trump visiting the UK. London Mayor Sadiq Khan led the protests after his infamous retweeting of Britain First’s inflammatory videos, saying: “President Trump has used Twitter to promote a vile, extremist group that exists solely to sow division and hatred in our country. It’s increasingly clear that any official visit from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed.”
And in response to the news of Trump cancelling his trip, Khan added this morning: “Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda. It seems he’s finally got that message.”
Meanwhile, a poll from last year found that 4% of Britain’s population — roughly 2.5 million people — would protest a state visit by Trump, according to USA Today.
And if you thought this was the end of his inexplicable behaviour you’d be… WRONG! In another startling move, Trump grew frustrated during a meeting about immigration with Congressional lawmakers on Thursday and blurted out: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” according to the Washington Post.
The president then singled out Haiti, telling lawmakers that immigrants from that country must be left out of any deal. “Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said. “Take them out.” In contrast, Trump said he would like to see more immigrants from countries like Norway, whose Prime Minister he’d met with on Wednesday.
Democrats, however, were quick to point out that Trump employs Haitians at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and that he praised Haitian Americans in Miami in September.
This racially-charged outburst is hardly surprising considering Trump’s racist history, especially when he claimed former president Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.
But this latest episode will certainly ramp up worries about the state of the President. According to Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff: “Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of [Trump’s] repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes he’d repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories — now it was within 10 minutes.
“Indeed, many of his tweets were the product of his repetitions — he just couldn’t stop saying something.” Wolff goes on: “At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.”
So put away your placards, Trump’s not coming to Britain… for now.
*UPDATE*: This afternoon, Trump took to Twitter to deny some of the accusations made against him and to suggest he might start recording his meetings - just like Richard Nixon. And we all know how well that turned out for him!