These calls led to the former top Trump representatives-including National Security Advisors HR McMaster and John Bolton, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House Office Director John Kelly, and intelligence officials-to the following conclusions: as the two sources It is said that when dealing with foreign leaders, the president is often “delusional.” The source said there is very little evidence that the president has become more skilled or competent in telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. On the contrary, he still believes that he can almost attract, jaw or bully any foreign leader to succumb to his will, and that the goals he pursues are usually more coordinated than those that many of his senior advisers believe are in the national interest.
According to sources, by far the most telephone discussion Trump has had with a head of state is with Erdogan. Erdogan sometimes calls the White House at least twice a week, and according to Trump’s Regular orders are given directly to the president. At the same time, the president often bullied and degraded the leaders of the main American allies, especially two women: told British Prime Minister Theresa May that she was weak and lacked courage; and told German Chancellor Angela Merkel ( Angela Merkel) She is “stupid”.
Trump continues to brag about his head of state, including Saudi Arabia’s heir to the dictatorship, Mohammed bin Salman, and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, about his own wealth, genius, and president. The “great” achievement and the “stupidity” of his oval office, according to sources.
In his conversations with Putin and Erdogan, Trump was particularly happy to destroy former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and suggested that dealing directly with him-Trump-will be more fruitful than the previous administration . He told Bush and Obama: “They don’t know a Bachelor of Science.” The source said he preferred one of the ironic metaphors when discussing his predecessors with Turkish and Russian leaders.
Like Bolton, CNN sources say that the president seems to continually confuse his personal interests with national interests, especially to re-elect and retaliate against critics and political enemies who have been criticized.
In order to protect the anonymity of the people who describe this report, CNN will not disclose its position or directly quote its position. A CNN source said that more than a dozen officials either listened to the president’s phone in real time, or obtained a detailed summary and a rough printout of the phone recording shortly after the call ended. CNN conducted multiple interviews with the source in the four months to June.
The sources did cite some examples. They said that Trump took responsible actions during the telephone discussion with some foreign leaders, which was in the national interest. CNN solicited opinions from Kelly, McMaster and Tillerson. As of Monday afternoon, no response has been received. Mattis did not comment.
Before the story was published, the White House did not respond to requests for comment. The White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews said after publication: “President Trump is a world-class negotiator and he has consistently promoted the interests of the United States on the world stage. From the first stage of negotiations, China The agreement and the US Marine Corps (USMCA) made greater contributions to NATO allies to defeat ISIS, and President Trump has demonstrated the ability to promote US strategic interests.”
A person familiar with almost all dialogues with leaders of Russia, Turkey, Canada, Australia and Western Europe described these calls cumulatively as “slanders” that are so severe for the national security interests of the United States that if members of Congress listened Witnesses’ real conversations or reading texts and contemporaneous notes, even many senior Republican members will no longer maintain confidence in the president.
Attacking leaders of major allies-especially women
The source said that the insidious impact of the dialogue came from Trump’s tone. His fierce attacks on his allies to please the authoritarian strongman. His ignorance and lack of preparation for history are the same as the disturbing substance. A CNN source said that at the time, the then National Intelligence Director, Dan Coats, expressed concern about his subordinates, and Trump’s telephone discussion was undermining global diplomatic relations and the coherence of US goals. . In recent weeks, Kelly, the former director of the General Office, mentioned the president’s call for the devastating impact on US national security.
Two sources compared many of the president’s dialogues with foreign leaders to Trump’s recent newsletter on the coronavirus pandemic: free form, lack of fact, a stream of consciousness, chaos, fantasy, and his based Intuitive out-of-the-box announcements, speculations, Fox News TV host comments and misinformation on social media.
Sources said that in addition to Merkel and May, Trump often bullied other leaders of the Western Union in telephone conversations, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He used the hostile and aggressive methods of discussing coronavirus with some US governors.
According to sources, next to Erdogan, no foreign leader appealed to Trump more than Macron, and the French president often tried to persuade Trump to change the direction of environmental and security policy matters, including Climate change is consistent with the US withdrawal from Iran’s multilateral nuclear weapons.
Macron usually “does nothing” on substantive issues, and Trump angers the French president’s demands and exposes him to selfish bargaining and speeches. There is news that this is personalized verbal “whiplash”, especially Regarding France and other countries’ failure to meet NATO’s spending targets, their free immigration policies or trade imbalances with the United States.
The source said, but his most vicious attack was directed at the female head of state. In a dialogue with May and Merkel, the president described one of the sources as “almost sad” and degraded them, and confirmed them. “Something he said to Angela Merkel was incredible: he called her “stupid” and accused her of being in the Russian pocket…he was the toughest [in the phone calls] With those he thinks are the weakest and those who are the weakest he should impose. ”
A German official confirmed that the calls were “very unusual” and that special measures were taken in Berlin to ensure that their contents are kept confidential. The official called Trump’s actions on the phone with Merkel “very aggressive” and said that the circle of German officials involved in monitoring calls to Trump’s Merkel shrank: “This is just a small group of people , The reason, the main reason is that they do have problems.”
A source said: “He will have a dispute with Theresa May, and then make a phone call with her is very annoying to her.” “Unless the filter is set, in all cases, the crown Virus or Brexit are the same interaction.”
A source said that in the face of Trump’s attack, Merkel remained calm and calm-just like a source said “like the water on the back of a duck”-she often fought back by reciting facts His anger. The German official quoted above said that during Merkel’s visit to the White House two years ago, Trump showed “very suspicious behavior” and “very aggressive… [T]He did remain calm, and this is what she did on the phone. “
In contrast, Prime Minister May became “panicked and nervous” in the dialogue with the president. A CNN source said: “He apparently scared her and intends to do so.” In response to a request for comment on Trump’s behavior during the May call, Downing Street, UK ( Downing Street) transferred CNN to its website. The website lists some brief descriptions of the call content and avoids any tone or tension. The French embassy in Washington declined to comment, while the Russian and Turkish embassies did not respond to requests for comment.
Worries about talking to Putin and Erdogan
According to sources, as far as Putin’s and Erdogan’s calls are concerned, Trump has almost never made substantial preparations, which is particularly shocking. According to sources, this makes it easy for him to be exploited in various ways-part The reason is that these conversations (like most heads of state) are almost certainly recorded by the national security department and other agencies.
Sources said that in telephone conversations with Putin, the president often talked about himself with arrogant words: touted his “unprecedented” success in establishing the US economy; asserted in mocking language that he was “mean” than before he was elected president. He is much smarter and stronger than the “weak”; he is intoxicated by his experience of hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and excessively pursues Putin’s admiration and recognition. A senior government official said that Putin “outperformed” him-comparing Russian leaders with chess grandmasters and comparing Trump with occasional checkers. The source said that Putin “shook the stability of the West”, while the US President “sited there, thinking that he could establish his position as a businessman and a tough man so that Putin respected him.” (Sometimes, Putin The conversation with Trump sounds like “Two people are in the steam bath,” the source added.)
In the multiple calls to Putin described to CNN, Trump left the top assistant of the National Security Agency, and his chief of staff scorned the lab, not because he made specific concessions, but because of his Manners-excessively soliciting Putin’s admiration and seemingly seeking his approval-while often ignoring substantive policy expertise and important matters on the standing bilateral agenda, including human rights; CNN sources said there is also an arms control Agreement, but never dealt with in a way that promotes the common Russian and American goals that Putin and Trump claim to agree with.
During his tenure, Trump has touted the theme of “America First” as his North Star in foreign policy, and put forward the view that US allies and opponents have taken advantage of the US goodwill economic advantages in trade. America’s closest allies need to increase their share of collective defense spending. He often argues that Russia is a major player in the world, and establishing constructive and friendly relations is in line with Putin’s seemingly, and it is in the interest of the United States to resettle with Moscow through a private dialogue with Putin.
Two senior government officials familiar with most of Trump-Putin’s appeals said in a separate interview that the president naively promoted Russia—a second-rate totalitarian country that only accounts for less than 4% of the world’s GDP—its autocratic leaders almost destroyed the U.S. Congress, the US intelligence agencies, and the United States and its European allies have expressed a stronger and more realistic view of Russia in the long-term post-war policy consensus, and are equal to the United States and its president. “He [Trump] An official said: “This gave Putin and Russia vitality because he gave Russia a lifeline there. This is because it gave Russia a lifeline, which gave Putin and Russia unprecedented legitimacy to a certain extent. “There is no doubt that their power is declining… he is playing with something he does not understand, he is giving them the power they will use [aggressively]”.
Both officials cited Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria-this is probably the most painful example of this, which has benefited Turkey and Russia. One of them said, “He gave up this store.”
Frequency of phone calls with Erdogan-The Turkish President has continued to pressure Trump on his policy concessions and other concessions-In particular, McMaster, Bolton, and Kelly are concerned because Erdogan bypassed easily In addition to the normal National Security Council, this is particularly worrying. Two sources said that the agreement and procedures of the President have been reached.
Erdogan is so good at knowing when to meet with the president directly that some White House aides are convinced that the Turkish security department in Washington is using Trump’s schedule and whereabouts to provide Erdogan with information about when the president can Answer the call.
In some cases, Erdogan reached his place on the golf course, and Trump would delay the game, and both were talking for a long time.
Two sources stated that the President knew nothing about the history of the Syrian conflict and the entire Middle East, and said that he was often caught off guard and lacked sufficient knowledge to participate equally in the subtle policy discussions with Erdogan. One of the sources said: “Erdogan brought him to the cleaners.”
The source said that the United States’ harmful policy decision on Syria, including the president’s instructions to withdraw the US military from the country, then allowed Turkey to attack the Kurds, who helped the United States fight the Islamic State and weakened NATO’s role in the conflict. It’s related to Erdogan’s ability to get in touch with Trump on the phone.
Trump is sometimes angry with Erdogan-sometimes because of the request for preferential trade status to Turkey, and because the Turkish leader will not release the imprisoned American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson (Andrew Brunson), he was accused of trying to “assist terrorism” during the 2016 coup, overthrowing Erdogan. Brunson was finally released in October 2018.
The source said that although many of Erdogan’s calls were not notified in advance, the White House designated notekeepers also provided a full set of notes at the same time, as well as rough computer text generated by voice in the conversation.
A high-level source said that the President’s discussions with Erdogan also had summaries and dialogues, which may strengthen Bolton’s allegations against Trump in the so-called “Halkbank case,” which involved a large Turkish bank. , Suspected of having contact with Erdogan and his family. The source said that more than one telephone conversation between Erdogan and Trump triggered the incident.
Bolton wrote in the book that in December 2018, under the urging of Erdogan, Trump proposed to intervene with the US prosecutor at the time against Geoffrey Berman in the Southern District of New York. An investigation by the Turkish Bank, which was accused of violating US sanctions against Iran.
Bolton wrote: “Trump then told Erdogan that he would take care of everything and explained that the Southern District Prosecutor was not his people, but the Obama people. This issue will be resolved after it is replaced by his people “Berman’s office finally filed a public prosecution against the bank in October 2019, alleging fraud, money laundering and other crimes related to participating in a multi-billion dollar plan to evade US sanctions against Iran. On June 20, after the prosecutor refused to instruct the Attorney General William Barr to resign, Trump fired Berman-his office was also investigating the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Unlike Bolton, CNN sources did not assert or specifically imply that Trump and Erdogan’s appeal may be the reason for being bombed because there may be evidence of the president’s illegal behavior. Instead, they portrayed Trump’s appeals with heads of state as evidence that Trump’s temperament and incompetence were generally “inappropriate” for the presidency. Bolton also interviewed ABC News last week to promote his interview. Assertion: Bolton said: “I don’t think he is suitable for the job. I don’t think he is competent for the job.”
Family feedback and dissatisfaction fueled Trump’s approach
CNN repeatedly talked to sources familiar with the president’s telephone within four months. In an interview, the source was very careful not to disclose specific national security information and confidential information-but described the extensive content of many calls, as well as Trump’s overall attitude and method of telephone discussions with foreign leaders.
In addition to rough, voice-generated software transcriptions, almost all telephone conversations between Trump and Putin, Erdogan, and Western Union leaders received a large number of simultaneous notes prepared by Vice President Fiona Hill ( And often a summary) supplement and record. Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the European and Russian National Security Councils until his resignation last year. According to closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in November last year, Hill heard most of the appeals of the President and Putin, Erdogan and European leaders.
The source said that if subject to re-examination by Congressional investigators, the content of Hill’s testimony may provide a detailed roadmap for the president’s extensive dialogue. The White House and intelligence officials familiar with the transcripts and basic documents generated by the voice agreed that if these details are disclosed in detail, it may undermine the position of the president in the Congressional representation of both parties and the public. (There is no doubt that Trump will invoke executive privileges to keep the dialogue private. However, sources say that some former officials who have detailed knowledge of many of the dialogues may be willing to testify for them.)
In the earliest phone call between Putin and Trump, the president’s female sons Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump listened in the conference room — joined McMaster, Tillerson, Greek And State Department aides went to Tillerson.
The NSC vice chairman said: “Phones are everywhere,” he read a detailed summary of the conversation-Putin made a substantial and lengthy speech, and Trump boasted about himself, bragging, congratulating and flattering himself in his autobiography. Putin. As stated to CNN, Kushner and Ivanka Trump immediately praised how Trump handled the call-Tillerson (Tillerson (Putin knew Putin well after he served as an oil executive in Russia) ), Hill and McMaster expressed doubts.
The CNN source said that Hill is the author of Putin’s authoritative biography, and she began to explain some of the nuances she saw on the phone, thus gaining insight into Putin’s psychology, his typical “smooth dialogue” and linear method and What the Russian leaders did was tried to be realized in the call. Trump cut off Hill’s post and the president continued to discuss the conference call with Jared and Ivanka, making it clear that he wanted to hear congratulatory evaluations of his daughter and husband, not Hill, Tillerson or McMaster How to judge the conversation.
According to sources, McMaster believed that the early telephone exchange with Putin indicated the progress of the entire relationship between Russia and the Trump administration-the conclusions of the later national security adviser and chief of staff and many senior intelligence officials: different from the previous government , There are relatively few meaningful exchanges between military and diplomatic professionals, even at the highest level, because Trump-who does not trust experts and is unwilling to brief him-has a special relationship with Putin and almost It was entirely him. In the end, Putin and the Russians learned that “no one has the right to do anything”-as a CNN source said, Russian leaders use this insight to leverage their advantages.
The Kushners also attended other important meetings with foreign leaders, and with the encouragement of the president, they even demonstrated their primacy on foreign policy issues where their daughters and her husband had no experience. According to CNN sources, Trump hardly reads the briefing materials prepared for him by CIA and NSC employees before meeting with the head of state.
A source said: “He will not ask for their opinion or even gain their wisdom.” He quoted Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia in Trump “provoking and calling without Top of the list of any prepared leaders”. “This is a situation often encountered by NSC and intelligence personnel. The source added that the helpless response of the aides “often will be’Oh, my God, don’t make that call’.” ”
A CNN source said: “Trump’s view is that he is a better character judge than others.” The president has consistently rejected the recommendations of the heads of defense, intelligence and national security of the United States, namely More determined and less trusting of the Russian president. CNN sources pointed out that the most prominent public example is “important”: Trump stood next to the Russian President at a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, in June 2018, and said he “found no reason ”Russia will interfere in the victory in the 2016 presidential election-although the entire US intelligence community in Moscow has obtained the results of the investigation. Trump said: “President Putin is extremely powerful in today’s denial.”
Trump’s dialogue with authoritarian dictators and the leaders of the world’s greatest democracies has a shared, overwhelming impetus that he consistently advocates himself as the defining theme and subtext of the appeal-almost never the United States and its historical status and Leadership According to the familiar telephone world of the source.
In many calls to the closest allies of the United States among the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia and Canada (over the past 75 years, the entire post-war era), Trump usually made grievances almost the default for conversations The content or topic, in any case based on these sources, the assumed agenda.
One person said: “Everything is always personalized, everyone is doing terrible things to deprive us of interest, which means depriving me, Trump. He cannot or will not see or focus on the big picture “” US officials.
The source cited an apparently provable example, Trump refused to ask Angela Merkel (at the urging of the United Kingdom) to publicly request Russia’s so-called “Salisbury” radioactivity against the former Russian spy and his daughter The poisoning was responsible, and Putin denied any such behavior. Although there is a lot of evidence that Russia is involved. A source said that “it took a lot of energy” to make Trump raise this topic. Instead of addressing Russia’s responsibility for poisoning and holding it accountable internationally, Trump placed the focus of the appeal (in a personally derogatory way) on the so-called relentless allied burden-sharing between Germany and Merkel. The source said that in the end, under the urging of his National Security Committee staff, Trump finally reluctantly solved the problem of poisoning.
“Almost all problems are needed [in his phone calls] It was someone who wanted him to do something on behalf of the United States, but he didn’t think so; he was ripped off. He is not interested in cooperation issues or working together; instead, he is distorting things or pushing practical issues to a corner. “An American official said.
The official said: “There is no’American team’ feeling in the dialogue, or that the United States is a historical force with certain democratic principles and leadership over the free world. “It’s just the opposite. It’s like America disappeared. It is always’just me’. ”
Update: This story has been updated with comments from the White House.
CNN’s Nicole Gaouette contributed to this report.