Jan 21, 2017

Bannon and Kushner engineer UK meetings

Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP

Donald Trump will take his first foreign leader meeting as President with British Prime Minister Theresa May. They'll meet Thursday, says White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Behind the Scenes:

  • A senior source tells Axios that Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon played an important role in pushing the meeting to happen earlier than originally planned.
  • Bannon has also been in contact with Boris Johnson, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and one of the chief cheerleaders of the Brexit movement.
  • Jared Kushner was also very influential in the process, we are told.

Why this matters: Trump has already expressed interest in a U.S.-Britain bilateral trade deal (replacing the previously planned, and now doomed, multilateral European deal.) This could happen quicker than some expected if the two strike up a rapport.

The 30,000 foot view: European leaders will be watching the Trump-May meeting closely. Trump and his allies actively encouraged Brexit, particularly Steve Bannon's Breitbart News. The post-Brexit Special Relationship between the U.S. and Britain will have a large bearing on the fate of the European project.

What's next? It will be interesting to see whether May changes Trump's mind about NATO. He's called the alliance "obsolete." She's sounded more positive notes.

Other things to watch: The EU, defense policy and Russia.

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