On July 19, 2017, the New York Times (NYT) published a transcript of an extensive interview with President Donald Trump.
Portions of the transcript made French news on Friday, July 21. I heard it on RMC at lunchtime. Trump was most effusive about his meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron. Relevant excerpts will appear in this first part detailing the Trumps’ trip as well as the second entry which will cover events on July 14, Bastille Day.
The French government decided months ago — before the US election last autumn — to invite the American president for Bastille Day commemorations on July 14, 2017. This year marks the centenary of American troops arriving in France during the Great War, and the French wanted to roll out special ceremonies of remembrance and thanksgiving.
Trump is not the first foreign leader to have been invited for Bastille Day celebrations. It is a common occurrence.
Security was tighter than usual in Paris during this time, but, despite the American president’s remarks about their country, the French were looking forward to the Trumps’ visit. A British journalist was thrilled they would be spending so much time in his neighbourhood.
No one could have predicted how well this trip went, possibly even President Trump and First Lady Melania.
Trump told the NYT how he reacted to the invitation:
… when Macron asked, I said: “Do you think it’s a good thing for me to go to Paris? I just ended the Paris Accord last week. Is this a good thing?” He said, “They love you in France.” I said, “O.K., I just don’t want to hurt you.”
Add to that the fact that Macron met with his beloved Angela Merkel the morning of Trump’s arrival on Thursday, July 13.
The Trumps landed that morning:
The French were fascinated by Trump’s reinforced Cadillac, The Beast.
While Macron and members of his cabinet spent time with Merkel and her German delegation, the Trumps had prior commitments.
Mrs Trump visited the Necker Hospital for children:
She spent time with patients:
Her husband was at the US Embassy for meetings.
Later, the couple met at the embassy where Trump addressed an enthusiastic gathering of military families and American veterans who served in the Second World War:
A somewhat younger audience was also delighted:
In covering the event, CNN’s Poppy Harlow mistook the Star Spangled Banner for La Marseillaise.
You can see more embassy photos here, here and here.
There was no meeting at the Elysée Palace until after the tour of Les Invalides, the military museum, formerly a military hospital that Napoleon had built. It is a splendid place to visit.
The next few photos are from Les Invalides. You can see a news clip here which shows how grand it is and the welcome ceremony Macron laid on.
The Beast arrived:
What a magnificent setting:
Strict protocol was observed throughout:
Macron gave the Trumps a tour of the museum. No doubt it included quite a history lesson as the French president has always been scholarly, even from his early childhood:
Maréchal Foch’s tomb was also part of the tour. The comment in the tweet explains why nearly every large French town and city has a Boulevard or Avenue Maréchal Foch:
Trump told the NYT that he was impressed with Macron’s commentary on Napoleon and the tour of Les Invalides.
Afterwards, Macron hosted Trump at the Elysée.
It was a tight squeeze for The Beast:
Meetings took place, likely to have included counter-terrorism in the Horn of Africa:
A press conference followed:
It emerged that Trump spoke with the press on the flight to Paris. Bloomberg has a transcript.
You can watch the 35-minute press conference here.
Macron looked pleased:
The Guardian predicted a synergy between the two men whilst acknowledging Macron’s opportunism (emphases mine):
The deeper worry for the UK must be that Trump warms to Macron’s energy, and finds the British, preoccupied by the intricacies of Brexit and led by a “loser” who wasted her parliamentary majority, comparatively less appealing. His state visit to the UK – stalled at least until next year – is in danger of becoming a symbol of an ailing special relationship.
Above all Macron, unlike May, has shown himself to be an operator. At the “family” photo-shoot at the G20, Macron, realising his relatively small frame and slated for a rather undistinguished position in the second row, simply ignored protocol and inserted himself in the front row next to the US president. Trump may be an isolationist, but few politicians want to isolate themselves from him.
Equally, after the Manchester terrorist attack in May, Macron walked from the Élysée to sign a condolences book. A letter of gratitude for the gesture from the British embassy received a handwritten reply from Macron to the effect “it is what should be expected”. Gallic charm and symbolism have their virtues.
Trump confirmed to the NYT that Great Britain can wait:
BAKER: Will you go to Britain? Are you going to make a state visit to Britain? Are you going to be able to do that?
TRUMP: As to Britain?
HABERMAN: Will you go there?
While the meetings and press conference took place, Brigitte Macron took Mrs Trump on a tour of Notre Dame Cathedral …
… and a boat tour of the Seine:
That evening, the Macrons hosted the Trumps for dinner at the upmarket restaurant, the Jules Verne (more here):
It is one of Alain Ducasse‘s restaurants. You can see him in the video below:
The restaurant was closed to other diners, although photographers were allowed in from time to time:
While they had dinner, the main course of which was lobster, Trump’s entourage took a night-time tour of the city.
Then it was time to get some rest:
Mrs Trump closed the day by sending a thank you via the White House:
“France is a beautiful country that is rich in history and culture,” said First Lady Melania Trump. “I am grateful to President and Mrs. Macron for their gracious invitation and hospitality as we celebrate Bastille Day with them, which is not only a celebration of France’s national day, but on this occasion, in 2017, also honors the historic cooperation between France and the United States during the First World War.” The First Lady continued, “I also want to take a moment to thank the employees and families of the United States Embassy for all of their hard work on behalf of our country, and to extend my warmest wishes to the patients and staff at Necker Hospital. My visit with the patients was very special, and I will continue to keep them all in my thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.”
You can see more images here, here, here, here and here.
The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and Breitbart each has a series of photos of the Trumps and Macrons taken on July 13.
A review of July 14 comes next week.