President Donald Trump faced the press along with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, after giving a bombshell of an interview to The Sun the day before, which he now calls “fake news.”
Trump tried to walk back virtually every statement he made to the British tabloid.
On the U.S. – U.K. relationship
Before taking questions on Friday, President Trump spoke about the “friendship, collaboration and affection” between the two countries, which might ring hollow after his interview in The Sun ran last night.
In the interview he gave to The Sun, he slammed May’s handling of the Brexit deal, the United Kingdom’s impending and contentious departure from the European Union. He also said he felt “unwelcome” in London (owing to the massive protests greeting him) and criticized the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, for doing “a terrible job.”
The BBC pushed back on Trump’s claims of collegiality, asking if his was “really the behavior of a friend.”
Trump replied by saying The Sun, which included edited audio of Trump’s answers, was “fake news”:
I have a lot of respect for the prime minister and unfortunately there was a story that was done which was generally fine but it didn’t put in what I said about the prime minister and I said tremendous things and fortunately we tend to record stories now so we have it for you are enjoyment if you like it. We report when we deal with reporters. It is called fake news and we solve a lot of problems with the good old recording instrument…
When NBC said he had insulted May “on her own soil” Trump lashed out, accusing the network of “such dishonest reporting.”
He later referred to the relationship as “the highest level of special” and added that he had apologized to May on Friday morning.
“I said such good things about you. She said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s only the press.'”
On claiming that May has flubbed Brexit
The U.K. plans to leave the European Union by March 2019, and President Trump has had a lot to say about it.
He told the tabloid that he “told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me.” He added the deal May has negotiated would “kill” any bilateral deal between the U.S. and the U.K. but he seemed to walk that back on Friday.
“I gave her a suggestion, not advice. Maybe she found it too brutal,” said the president. May diplomatically shrugged off the discrepancy between the Trump of Thursday and the Trump of Friday with, “Lots of people give me advice how to negotiate with the European Union. My job is getting out there and doing it and that’s what I’ve done.”
On his praise for Boris Johnson
Trump told The Sun he was “surprised and saddened” to hear that Foreign Secretary Johnson had stepped down on Monday. While maintaining the he was not “pitting” May against Johnson (who has had his eye on her job), Trump also said he felt Johnson would make a great prime minister.
Both Trump and May were asked about the president’s comments on Johnson — May did not respond, but Trump did. Essentially, it boils down to this: Trump loves Trump, so if Johnson loves Trump, then Trump loves Johnson:
“I think he thinks I’m doing a great job as president. I’m doing a great job, I can tell you in case you haven’t Boris Johnson would be a great prime minister. I also said that this incredible woman right here is doing a fantastic job, a great and I mean that.”