Trump's meetings with foreign officials 'disturbing' some in Biden's camp

Washington – as Donald Trump The red carpet has been rolled out for a parade of foreign dignitaries in recent weeks, including some of the president's aides Joe Biden They noted – and expressed dissatisfaction with – what they saw as the former president playing the role of prosecutor.

In less than two months, Trump hosted the Polish president Andrzej DudaHungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbánformer Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and David Cameron, former British Prime Minister who is now Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom. He also spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and others by phone.

It is not unusual for a party's candidate to meet with foreign officials, but this is usually done abroad and with leaders below the level of president or prime minister. Trump made a show of bringing these dignitaries to their homes — Mar-a-Lago for some, Trump Tower for others — and treating them to some of the trappings of a state visit. This, in particular, has stuck with some Biden aides, according to three people familiar with the frustrations.

A picture of the delicate dance of power emerged in interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with aspects of American foreign policy and the Biden and Trump campaigns. Biden and Trump are squabbling over which of them has more influence at home and abroad, while foreign leaders seek to influence American policy, strengthen their standing at home, and hedge their bets by getting closer to both candidates.

While the pomp and circumstance of the visits to Trump's homes are not official, the policy and political ramifications of the meetings are real, and that has presented a dilemma for the Biden team.

“On the official side, it could be helpful,” one longtime Biden ally said of Trump hearing from the likes of Duda and Cameron, who championed the Ukraine aid bill Biden signed last month. “On the political side, it's upsetting to see this happen because [Trump] “He's trying to take advantage.”

For some of the same reasons, Trump's allies love the spectacle reflected in his series of meetings. As is Defending himself Against criminal charges in federal and state courts, these foreign officials — most of whom are far-right politicians — are offering support to Trump. The meetings may also suggest to voters that the world sees a Trump return as a real possibility.

“On some level, they believe,” a Trump aide said [Trump] “He can win – he will win.”

Brian Hughes, Trump campaign spokesman, said world leaders have the ability to compare Biden to Trump.

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“Foreign leaders and others care about these elections for a number of reasons,” he said. “One is primarily that our president on the world stage has diminished,” he said of the comparison between Trump's years in office and Biden's years.

Democrats tend to ignore such talk. Biden Overseas approval rating Stronger than Trump was during his presidency, according to Gallup. There are far more countries and their leaders who do not publicly touch Trump. And at least in the case of Poland and Britain, they were giving Trump reasons not to rally his allies in Congress against him Aid bill for Ukraine. In other words, they were meeting with him, at least in part, because of the perception that he could kill the financing deal.

A senior Biden administration official said many world leaders fear another Trump administration, and European leaders in particular are “bracing themselves” for that possibility. “They certainly know that he has influence over the Republican Party, that he is the de facto leader of the Republican Party.”

This appears to be the common thread linking the various players seeking Trump's global support – or neutrality – when it comes to US support for Ukraine and NATO.

Trump's influence on the far right in Congress is seen as so strong that Finland and Sweden have quietly pressured him not to back away from joining NATO in 2022. The Trump campaign has refused to confirm or deny the talks with NATO's newest Scandinavian members.

Foreign leaders are also hedging their bets with the circle of aides and advisers surrounding Trump, working through formal and informal channels to arrange their meetings — when heads of state do not communicate with the former president directly. After Trump recently met with a top US ally, a diplomat in the country admitted he had at least six people offering themselves as liaisons.

This dynamic reflects the challenge of dealing with a former president who has a wide range of people working to broker access to him, and who has no qualms about crossing him.

Last month, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, as an aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan began moving through Congress — and with Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., threatening to force a vote. Johnson was ousted in part because of this action. When Donald Trump Jr. tweeted criticism of the $95 billion aid bill, the speaker texted the former president's eldest son to request a phone call.

Johnson laid out arguments for an appropriations bill that he had previously presented to a variety of conservative skeptics, according to people familiar with the call. Without issuing a “direct request” to Trump Jr. to cease and desist from publicly lighting fires, according to one person familiar with the call, he was clear about hoping to reduce the tweets. Trump Jr. had already decided he was done publicly ripping up the measure, according to another person familiar with the call, but he listened to Johnson's arguments.

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Trump Sr., who has long questioned the wisdom of American strategy in the Russia-Ukraine war, did not explicitly call for canceling the aid package. But the Republican base's discomfort with sending American money abroad, fueled by Trump's criticism of it and Democratic division over Israel's funding of its war against Hamas, combined to delay the deal for several months.

When the aid package finally passed Congress with decisive votes last month — enabling Biden to sign it into law — the victory had a large crowd of parents, including foreign leaders who implored Trump to keep his powder dry.

He added: “President Duda will be happy to see that immediately after his meeting with Trump, the Ukrainian aid package passed through Congress, and he will be happy to see that his advocacy on this issue played a role in this change in views that occurred.” Embassy spokesman Nikodim Rashon said.

Naturally, Biden and congressional leaders, who also met with Duda, were the main fathers of the legislation.

The senior administration official downplayed any concerns from within the White House about Trump's meetings, perhaps in part because Biden ended up winning on defense funding policy in Ukraine.

“I don't feel like there's a lot of ambiguity on this topic,” the official said, noting that the president's re-election campaign may have different calculations.

“Trump's photo ops do little to erase his now troubling rhetoric or his disastrous record as president when he has consistently sided with dictators on democracy, undermined our allies, and embarrassed our nation on the international stage,” Ammar Moussa, a Biden campaign spokesman, said in a statement. . “A second term for Donald Trump promises to be more dangerous than the first – promising to be a dictator on day one, or allowing it.” [Russian President] “Vladimir Putin is doing ‘whatever the hell he wants’ all over Europe and abandoning our allies to make Americans at home less safe.”

In addition to Biden's campaign team, a second and third senior administration official said that although it is common for a major party nominee to meet with foreign officials, they are troubled by the degree to which Trump has brought them into office. Homes and sessions were given the trappings of state visits.

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It angers Biden It won't stop Trump from hosting foreign officials who request meetings, and his aides say they expect the list to grow. But it may serve as a buffer for foreign officials.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan downgraded a planned meeting with Cameron in April after the British official met Trump – holding a phone call rather than an in-person session – although the decision was attributed to Scheduling conflict Instead of ruffled feathers.

Duda has made separate visits to the United States in recent weeks, where he sought to stress the need for Washington to provide another round of aid to defend Ukraine against a Russian invasion. Duda went to the White House in March and met with leaders of both parties on Capitol Hill at the time. But he waited until April to sit down with Trump.

“It didn't actually happen at the same time because President Duda had his formal meeting in Washington, D.C., with President Biden,” Rashon said.

When he returned to the United States, eager to tell Trump that Poland was on track to boost its defense spending and explain his view of what was at stake in Ukraine, Duda had a wide-ranging photo opportunity outside Trump Tower. The two men had dinner inside Trump's apartment and discussed Ukraine, among other topics, according to people familiar with their meeting. Duda sought to underscore the inevitability of American support for Ukraine, and to make clear that even as European countries allocate more money to their own defense — as Trump has demanded — American support is critical to their security, according to a Trump campaign official.

In the end, Biden and European leaders achieved a political victory, but the political impact is not yet clear. Trump was able to use the sessions with foreign leaders to remind voters that he had once crossed the presidential barrier — and to point out that, even as a criminal defendant, some foreign leaders view him as a key ally.

“These leaders are coming, and various legal measures are being taken against them [former] “The president has been no obstructionist,” a Trump campaign aide said. “They are not concerned with public opinion back home. In many cases, they consider it a big positive to be seen with him.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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