Carl Bernstein's latest investigative story for CNN is all about President Trump's phone calls with foreign leaders, and it's one that will not make Trump happy. Bernstein writes that Trump was so regularly "outplayed" by Russia's Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Recep Erdogan and so abusive to allies including Britain's Theresa May and Germany's Angela Merkel that senior officials concluded Trump himself "posed a danger to the national security of the United States." And that's just the first paragraph. Some of the items generating attention in Bernstein's anonymously sourced story:
- Merkel: "Some of the things he said to Angela Merkel are just unbelievable," a source tells Bernstein. "He called her 'stupid,' and accused her of being in the pocket of the Russians."
- May: "He clearly intimidated her and meant to," says another of Bernstein's insiders, referring to the former British prime minister. "It's the same interaction in every setting—coronavirus or Brexit—with just no filter applied."
- Putin: He just "outplays" Trump, a source tells Bernstein. "While Putin 'destabilizes the West,' said this source, the President of the United States 'sits there and thinks he can build himself up enough as a businessman and tough guy that Putin will respect him,'" writes Bernstein. Aides were frequently left "flabbergasted" after the Putin calls, he adds.
- Erdogan: "Two sources described the President as woefully uninformed about the history of the Syrian conflict and the Middle East generally, and said he was often caught off guard, and lacked sufficient knowledge to engage on equal terms in nuanced policy discussion with Erdogan," writes Bernstein. A source says: "Erdogan took him to the cleaners."
- White House response: No word from Trump yet on the story, but deputy press chief Sarah Matthews said: "President Trump is a world class negotiator who has consistently furthered America's interests on the world stage. From negotiating the phase one China deal and the USMCA to NATO allies contributing more and defeating ISIS, President Trump has shown his ability to advance America's strategic interests."
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