Trump, May roll their eyes when asked about president’s shocking interview
Jack Taylor/WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) — British Prime Minister Theresa May, in a nod to the “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom, rolled out the red carpet for President Donald Trump’s first official visit with a black-tie gala at Blenheim Palace.
But that special relationship appeared on the rocks Friday following Trump’s stunning interview with The Sun in which the president politically undercut May while she battles to maintain control of her government.
The diplomatic faux pas set up a series of friendly yet strained interactions on Friday.
Trump rolled his eyes and looked irritated when asked if he regrets the comments he made to the British tabloid while sitting next to May at her country estate Chequers. May also appeared annoyed by the question.
Before the policy meeting started, Trump called the U.K.-U.S. connection “very strong.”
“The relationship is very, very strong. We have a very good relationship,” Trump said.
May told reporters the two would be discussing “our special relationship, which is great between the U.K. and the United States.”
“We’re going to discuss the real opportunity we’ve got on a trade deal coming. And, of course, we’ll discuss the defense relationship,” May said.
Trump told The Sun that if May pursues her “soft” Brexit plan, it will jeopardize any potential trade deal between the United States and Britain.
“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal,” Trump said.
Trump’s visit to the U.K. comes after he cannonballed into the NATO summit by demanding that allies spend more on defense, ordering a special summit meeting to talk about spending, and monopolizing media coverage with an impromptu press conference.
“The president did a very good job at NATO encouraging others to spend,” May said.
On Friday night, the president and first lady Melania Trump were welcomed in grand style to Blenheim for a special dinner with May. The Trumps appeared to enjoy themselves so much that they stayed longer than scheduled.
“We had a dinner, where I think we probably developed a better relationship. We spoke for an hour, an hour and a half. It was really something,” Trump said.
But just as the dinner wrapped and the guests in their tuxedos and gowns left the estate, The Sun ran its interview with Trump. The president’s searing critiques of the prime minister and her “soft” Brexit plan sent immediate shockwaves across U.K.
The White House scrambled to clean up Trump’s comments.
“The president likes and respects Prime Minister May very much. As he said in his interview with The Sun, she ‘is a very good person’ and he ‘never said anything bad about her,'” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. “He thought she was great on NATO today and is a really terrific person. He is thankful for the wonderful welcome from the prime minister here in the U.K.”
The morning after, cameras were not allowed to capture the first interaction between May and Trump at Sandhurst, and the White House did not provide a readout of how their first handshake of the day went or whether Trump’s comments were brought up.
Still, a U.K. official told ABC News that May and Trump have an “open and honest relationship.”
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