Nov 14, 2018

2. End of Le Bromance: How the Trump-Macron relationship turned sour

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The unlikely bond between President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron — once dubbed Le Bromance by the New York Times — appears to have taken a turn for the worse following Trump's weekend visit to France.

Driving the news: Trump kicked off the trip by tweeting his frustration with Macron's proposal for a "true European army," calling the idea "very insulting." On Sunday, with Trump sitting nearby, Macron gave a speech slamming nationalism as "a betrayal of patriotism." Trump responded in a Tuesday morning tweet storm, pointing out Macron's low approval rating and claiming "there is no country more [n]ationalist than France."

Flashback: Things weren't always this tense.

  • Trump hosted Macron for his administration's first official state dinner in April. It was a jovial affair marked by affectionate body language and a belief that while the leaders differed widely on matters of policy, their strong personal relationship would allow them to work together constructively.
  • As Axios' Jonathan Swan noted, Trump views international relations as chemistry between individuals — and Macron, perhaps more than any other leader, put forth "a master class" in flattery and attentiveness to, paired with wariness of, the president.
  • On the last evening of his visit, Macron held a postgame with reporters in which he had this blunt assessment of Trump's "America First" approach: "It can work [in] the short term, but it's very insane [in] the mid- to long-term."

Such statements fit with Macron's ambitions "to be a strong leader that Trump disagrees with but respects for being strong,” Célia Belin of Brookings says. Macron continued to charm Trump in person before turning around and bashing everything he stands for. For a while it seemed to work, even if it yielded limited tangible results.

  • When the divide between Trump's nationalism and Macron's multilateralism began to manifest in concrete policy, though, as with Trump's unilateral withdrawal from the Iran deal and implementation of steel and aluminum tariffs, Macron did not hesitate to voice his displeasure.
  • The NATO summit in July, during which Trump made veiled threats to withdraw from the alliance unless other countries boosted their defense spending, marked a turning point. The next month, Macron announced an "exhaustive review" of defense cooperation in the EU and claimed the bloc can no longer rely on the U.S. for its security — a position he continues to espouse.

The big picture: Macron is dealing with his own problems in France and in Europe, including a battle with right-wing populists that are de facto allies of Trump's. His confrontation with the likes of Viktor Orban in Hungary and Matteo Salvini in Italy would be difficult to square with amity toward Trump.

Between the lines: Macron was elected on a promise to, essentially, "make France great again," says Erik Brattberg of the Carnegie Endowment — more specifically, to make the country matter on the world stage. For a time, it seemed the way to do that was to develop influence with Trump. Now, given Trump's hardheaded approach and immense unpopularity in Europe, Macron may calculate that his best bet is to stand against him.

Go deeper: In Macron's battle for Europe, Trump is a foe.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 883,225 — Total deaths: 44,156 — Total recoveries: 185,377Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 189,753 — Total deaths: 4,090 — Total recoveries: 7,141Map.
  3. Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index: It's "a tale of two Americas" as the rich are more likely to work from home and the poor are more likely to report to work.
  4. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  5. State updates: Washington and California appear to have slowed their surges of new cases — Florida cases have been doubling the past four days, approaching 7,000.
  6. NYPD: Reported 1,400 of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Private equity hits the brakes amid coronavirus recovery uncertainties

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Private equity is still working on opportunistic deals when it can get a break from portfolio triage, but it's also boarding up the exits amid new questions about the speed of the coronavirus recovery.

The state of play: Sale processes are being shelved daily, even ones that already launched with investment bankers, data rooms, and interested suitors.

U.S. coronavirus updates: America's "very painful two weeks"

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 4,000 people in the U.S. — with over 1,500 deaths reported in New York City, per Johns Hopkins.

The state of play: In a major pivot in tone, President Trump said Tuesday it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 43 mins ago - Health