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According to a Belgian report, Trump told EU leaders that he formed his opinions through his business difficulties in Scotland and Ireland.
He talked about governing with the language of business and was receptive only to concrete talking points, getting lost in theoretical discussions, the paper reported based on interviews with Belgian officials and sources involved in the meeting. He seemed to have “no idea” about economic issues facing Belgium and knew “even less” about the importance of Belgian trade to the United States.
And, when he did have an idea about issues facing the European Union — of which Brussels is the de facto capital — those ideas seemed formed entirely on his experience building golf courses, the paper said.
“He made many references to his personal business. He explained, for example, the function of Europe based on his difficulties doing business in Ireland,” the paper reported.
“Every time we talk about a country, he remembered the things he had done. Scotland? He said he had opened a club. Ireland? He said it took him two and a half years to get a license and that did not give him a very good image of the European Union.,” another source added. “One feels that he wants a system where everything can be realized very quickly and without formalities.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has brought his personal business into the United States’ relationship with its oldest allies.
Shortly after the election, Trump met with British politician and Brexit architect Nigel Farage and took the opportunity to rail against wind farms off the coast of his Scotland golf course, even encouraging the British politician to campaign against them.
Trump, as a businessman, has long fought against the wind farms, intended to be a source of clean energy, because he said they would spoil the views from his golf course.
And as President, Trump has often involved his golf courses and personal properties in diplomatic businesses: He spent half the weekends of his first few months as president at his club at Mar-A-Lago, where guests have been greeted by the Attorney General and witnessed the President’s response to national security matters. When Trump became president, fees for membership in the club doubled to $200,000 a year.
Trump also used the resort as a base to meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping for a summit in April. He treated Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a round of golf there during a state visit in February.
As Mar-A-Lago, in Florida, shuts down for the summer season, Trump has only shifted his attentions to other Trump properties.
The overall impression of Trump conveyed by the Belgian report is also just one more bit of information about the impression of America Trump left on his first trip abroad. Aides and supporters hoped the trip would be a chance for the embattled president to shift a narrative at home that has been increasingly bogged down in questions over conflicts of interest and possible Russian collusion.
Instead, his trip abroad may have only added to his woes: After Trump dithered about the Paris climate accord and lectured nonplussed NATO allies about finances — while simultaneously failing to commit the United States to a key provision of the alliance — German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a crowd that Europe can no longer depend on the United States under Trump.
“The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days,” Merkel said.
German Finance Minister Sigmar Gabriel was also damning, saying after the visit that Trump’s actions have “weakened” the West, according to Agence France Presse.
Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking to the Journal du Dimanche, compared him to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying that like them, Trump sees things in terms of balances of power, and engages in diplomacy by “public abuse.”
During Erdogan’s recent visit to Washington DC, his bodyguards beat up protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence mere hours after Trump welcomed him to the White House.
Video footage of the bloody melee shows Erdogan sitting in a car and watching, and appears to show him ordering his bodyguards to attack the protesters.
When talking to EU leaders, Trump complained about his golf courses was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.