The European campaign to charm and disarm Trump
President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G7 summit last year. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/AFP/Getty Images
Watch for European leaders to make moves to — hopefully, in their minds — charm and disarm Trump during his consequential visits to the NATO summit and to the United Kingdom for his first visit there.
Another storyline: German Chancellor Angela Merkel mentioned several times last week that German defense spending levels need to go up. Watch for her to make a good faith statement at NATO along similar lines.
The Brits have arranged Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom with the apparent goal of keeping him as far as possible from the massive protests against him being planned in central London.
- London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, has approved a giant blimp, depicting Trump as an angry baby, to fly over Parliament during Trump's U.K. visit.
- Meanwhile, British officials will host Trump at events far away from 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. Sources familiar with the planning tell me they want Trump out of sight and earshot of the protesters.
- British Prime Minister Theresa May will host the president and first lady for a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. It's the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, and Trump will be able to say he's the first American president in recent memory — possibly ever — to be hosted there.
- Trump will meet the Queen at Windsor and will head to Chequers — the Prime Minister's country estate in Buckinghamshire — for bilateral talks with May.
Between the lines: European officials tell me they're setting a low bar for their meetings with Trump. In their wildest dreams, he'd enthusiastically endorse the NATO alliance, commit to staying the course in Syria, and speak out boldly against Russian aggression. But they'll happily settle for none of that, so long as Trump keeps his ally-bashing to a minimum.