Background Call on the Visit of President Trump and First Lady Trump to UK, Ireland, and France

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
BACKGROUND PRESS CALL BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS ON THE VISIT OF PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP AND FIRST LADY MELANIA TRUMP TO THE UNITED KINGDOM, IRELAND, AND FRANCE
Via Teleconference
May 30, 2019

 

See also: Statement on President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump’s Upcoming Travel to the UK

PRESS OFFICER:  Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you very much for joining us for this background call on the President’s upcoming trip to the UK, Ireland, and France.  This will be on background, attributable to a senior administration official.

Joining us today is [senior administration officials].  They will provide a brief trip overview at the start, and then we’ll be able to take your questions.

So at this point, I’ll turn it over to [senior administration official].

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you so much.  I’ll just make a couple of brief remarks and then turn over to my colleague for some of the details.

As everyone is aware, this is a very important trip to United Kingdom for several reasons.  The timing is obviously pretty crucial.  It gives evidence to the fact that the special relationship between the U.S. and the UK is real and enduring.  As the President himself has said, “It’s a bond like no other.”

And given the fact that we’re commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day, this is a key time to honor our shared sacrifice and our shared service, both during World War Two, and in the many years since in all the endeavors that we’ve shared together.

The President and First Lady have a pretty packed schedule and my colleague will give you now some of the details.  Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks.  So the President and First Lady will arrive in London on June 3rd.  The Queen will host them at Buckingham Palace for an arrival ceremony there, where they will have the opportunity to meet some other members of the Royal Family and Royal (inaudible).

They will also have an opportunity to visit Westminster Abbey later that day.  They will plan to lay a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Warrior.

Later that evening, the Queen will host a state dinner in honor of the President.

On June 4th, the President will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister May.  They also will have an opportunity to have an interaction with American and British business leaders.

And that evening, the President will host a dinner at Winfield House, which is the ambassador’s residence in London.

On the 5th of June, the President will travel to Portsmouth to participate in a 75th commemoration to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day and to honor the service and sacrifice of so many Americans and our allies there.

Then, later that day, he will travel to Ireland.  In Ireland, he’ll have an opportunity to have a bilateral meeting with the Taoiseach, the Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar.

Then, the following day, on June 6th, the President will travel to Normandy where he will participate in a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery.  And he also will have a bilateral meeting with President Macron.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah, I just — not to wrap up before hearing your questions, but there is no better time to have a state visit to the United Kingdom than the 75th anniversary of D-Day.  It’s also very special to be able to commemorate the events of D-Day on both sides of the English Channel, in Portsmouth and then in Caen, in Normandy.

We’ll be there in both instances with many of the allies who shared the sacrifices of those important operations.  So the D-Day landings on all of the Normandy beaches and all the (inaudible) set off in Portsmouth.

And this, obviously, honors the special relationship but also this very deep history — a very personal history for some of the people who are in attendance in the presidential delegation.  And some of our senior leadership have family members who participated in D-Day.  I think that will be on all sides, actually, not just the UK and the U.S., but with some of the other allies who will join in Portsmouth and (inaudible).

So we share a deep history, and it was in the case of the of the United Kingdom that called the relationship with the United States as solid and strong.  And this is what we want to demonstrate with this state visit and also the continued cooperation on global and regional security issues, which we will be discussing in the bilateral meeting and in many of the other events.

So thank you for joining us.  And again, this is a preview of all of the events that will be happening next week, but we’d be happy to answer whatever questions you might have at this stage.  Thank you.

Q    Emily Purser from Sky News.  Thanks for this for this call.  Could I ask if there have been any contacts or discussions with Boris Johnson and his team, and Nigel Farage and his team, for a meeting in the President’s private time whilst in the London?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Not that we’re aware of, no.

Q    Hi, this is Patsy Widakuswara with Voice of America.  Thank you for taking my call.  So my question is to [senior administration official].  You mentioned that the timing is crucial and gives evidence to support the special relationship.  Other than to commemorate D-Day, can you explain what you mean by that, given that the Prime Minister is resigning on June 7, and the British public is so absorbed in their own political turmoil as well as Brexit?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, I think actually that that underscores why this timing is crucial, because the relationship isn’t just based on personalities.  It’s based on the long-shared service and shared sacrifice.  And that’s — you know, what 75 years of D-Day really underscores.

I mean, obviously, it was the case during World War Two that those personal relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill played an important role.  But beyond that, this is really an enduring alliance.

And the dates for D-day are pretty fixed.  This is the 75th commemoration, and we felt — all of us — that is extremely important.  The President has said this over and over again about the unshakeable bond between the two countries.

But even in the most difficult times, where you may have political upheaval and uncertainty, that we need to stand together shoulder to shoulder.  And that’s what we will be demonstrating in Portsmouth and during the meetings that we’ll have here in London.

Q    Hi, this is Heather Timmons from Quartz.  Can you tell us a little bit more about the size of the presidential delegation, and particularly which of his family members are going and how long they’ll be going for?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I mean, I’m not entirely sure, at this point, about how long everyone else is staying here.  And the delegation was, I think, already officially issued, and an announcement was made.

But I would refer you down to the White House Press as we move forward into this.  And, I mean, you’ll see, you know, for yourselves when everybody arrives here on Monday.

Q    Hi, (inaudible) from BBC News.  Is it possible that Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have been invited to the ambassador’s banquet that he’s hosting at Winfield House?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don’t actually have the invitation list or the details for this.  So, again, let’s wait until we have the official announcements from our press office and from the embassy about the list.  I mean, these are fairly closely held at this moment.

Q    Sure.  But will we get the names of the invitees to the banquet?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah, I’m honestly not sure about that.  I’m afraid that’s not information that we have here.  Again, I would just refer you back to the White House Press Office.

Q    Has there been any interest in the (inaudible) meeting?  Has the White House expressed any interest in meeting Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage, when they’re over in London?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I mean, (inaudible) somebody asked about this in his interview yesterday.  And I think, you know, he expressed his views and opinions on both those gentlemen and many others when he was pressed in the interview.  So I think we’ll just let the President’s comments about that stand.

Q    Hello, this is Alexei (inaudible) with RIA Novosti, Russian News Agency.  I just would like to ask whether White House knows of any invitation to Russia to take part in the festivities in Normandy.  And, if so, whether President Trump plans to have any interaction with President Putin.  Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We’re not aware of any invitation that was extended by the French government, so I’d have to refer you to them on that.  And we have not made any preparations for any kind of meeting between the presidents in Normandy — that being President Putin and President Trump, just to clarify.  There will be a bilateral with President Macron, however, in Normandy.

Q    Hi.  Emily (inaudible) with DailyMail.com.  I want to follow up on some of the schedule for the Trump family.  Specifically, is Ivanka Trump going to join the President and the Prime Minister at the business leaders’ breakfast on Tuesday?  And does she have any separate meetings scheduled?  And also, does the First Lady have any separate events scheduled from the President?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don’t have further detail to announce here or to share here about other members of the family and what other meetings that they may or may not have.  Similarly, you know, we’re not going to detail the list of individuals who are going to participate in each of the President’s meetings.  We can — we’ll leave it with an overview of the meeting that the President will have and the events that he will attend and engage in.

Q    So we’re not — can’t get any details on what the President’s kids will be doing during this visit?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  That, I would refer you to the White House press team for further — possible further details that they may or may not be able to share about President Trump’s family.

Q    Hi, this is Dmitry Kirsanov from TASS.  I believe I have a question for [senior administration official].  I just wanted to ask if you could tell us a bit more about the agenda of the meeting between President Trump and President Macron.  For instance, if they’re going to discuss Russia, Syria, Ukraine.  Do we expect any deliverables out of that?  Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Just to be clear that this is obviously a bilateral meeting on the size of an important commemoration of a major anniversary, so we’ve kept the schedule for this quite light.  We can imagine that there will, you know, at least touching upon some of the major issues that are on our bilateral agenda.  But at this point, we don’t have any further details.

Q    Hi, this is Francesca Chambers from DailyMail.com.  I just wanted to ask a couple of logistical questions in addition to that question.  I didn’t hear anything about a press conference with either Theresa May or with Emmanuel Macron.  So if you could confirm that there is no press conference, that would be really helpful for us.

But also, if you could just talk a little bit more about the relationship between Theresa May and President Trump.  You said that there was no better time to hold this meeting.  But her last day will be just two days after President Trump will be there.  And so I’m wondering why perhaps this wasn’t put off until there was a new prime minister.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, you can’t really put off D-Day and the commemoration.  So — and again, you know, we’ve been planning this for many months.  And it’s a very important event to commemorate, and that’s what we mean by that there’s no better time.  And the President himself said this at his own press interview yesterday.  And he also expressed his deep respect for Theresa May.

And, you know, there are many things for them to still talk about, whether it will be (inaudible) on the bilateral agenda between the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

There’s going to be press — on your other question — at the various events and at their meeting.  And I think, again, our White House press colleagues will be able to give you more details as we get closer to the President’s departure.

But understand that we’re very careful about the details (inaudible) for security reasons.

Q    Hey, this is Ryan Kessler from ABC News.  When you ran through some of the logistics, I did not hear you mention on Tuesday if the President and Theresa May are holding a joint news conference.  Is that still taking place?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The answer is the same as I made before: that we will have press availability at the various events and at the meeting.  And again, we’ll let our colleagues at the White House Press give you more details at we get closer.

Q    Hello, this is (inaudible) WATV.  We’re wondering if Meghan will be in attendance.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Who will be?  I’m sorry, I didn’t catch you.

Q    The Dutchess.  The Dutchess, Meghan.  If she will be attendance.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Oh, I’m afraid we’re not really sure at this particular stage about who will be attendance from the UK side.  I mean, again, that would be better addressed, I think, to the UK government and to perhaps the Buckingham Palace press people.

Q    Okay, thank you.

Q    Hello, it’s Brian O’Donovan here from Irish TV station RTE.  Just a couple of questions about the Irish leg of the journey.  Can you confirm that the bilateral with the Taoiseach is the only public event in Ireland?  Can you give us any color on what they might be likely to discuss?  How long is Donald Trump likely to stay in Ireland?  And is he going to try and get a round of golf while he’s at his golf resort in County Clare?  Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The bilateral meeting between the President and the Taoiseach is the only public event that we have to announce at this time.

Obviously, they will have a range of bilateral issues to discuss, as well as shared international interests and priorities.  And I won’t speculate on whether or not the President will have an opportunity to get into a round of golf.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Just a quick flag, as well, that the President and the Taoiseach saw each other in March, so they’ll probably pick up on some of the issues they discussed then when the Taoiseach was over for the annual St. Patrick’s Day commemorations and a (inaudible) bilateral there with the President.

Q    Yes, good afternoon.  Thank you very much for doing this call.  This is Anne Guerin with the Washington Post.  Also a couple of logistical matters.  Is it correct that there’s no longer a carriage procession planned in London?  And can you tell us a bit about that?  Is that due to protest?  What is your view of the protests planned for London?  Is this at all concerning?  Or does the President feel insulted by it?

And then, separately, on the Normandy part, is the President not staying for the evening program?  It’s not clear to me that he’s going to be there on into the evening for Macron’s large event around dinnertime.  Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, for the arrival ceremony, there will be an arrival ceremony at Buckingham Palace.  You know, the exact details I won’t get into — get into that.  But there will be an arrival ceremony at Buckingham Palace as was seen in some previous state visits of U.S. presidents to the UK.

With respect to Normandy — so, the President will be participating in the commemoration at the Normandy American Cemetery, which will take place midday.  And he will have a bilateral meeting with President Macron.  And that’s all that we have to announce about the President’s schedule.

If there’s a question about what else the French government might be organizing, we’d have to refer you to them.

Q    Yes, but my question wasn’t so much about what the French government is organizing.  I mean, other leaders are attending this evening program.  Will President Trump be among them?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don’t believe he is attending the evening program.

But again, just to emphasize, the whole event is structured around the American Cemetery.  And it was very important for the President to be able to commemorate the sacrifice of U.S. servicemen as well as the Allies during D-Day.

And he made it very clear, and he said this in some of this interviews, that he wanted to keep his focus less on, you know, larger events with other leaders and more on the actual servicemen themselves.

So we have kept our events very much focused on the cemetery, and then, of course, (inaudible).  And there’s a lot to discuss with President Macron, to have a bilateral with him as well.

Q    And on the protests?  Is that worrisome to you all?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We haven’t talked about this at all, to be frank.  But it hasn’t been (inaudible) by our UK host either.

Q    Hi, it’s Margaret Talev at Bloomberg.  Thank you for doing the call.  I’m wondering if we can touch on two issues. Huawei — what you’re expecting.  Or will press — given May’s sort of timetable, how much you intend to press for a commitment or a stance from the UK?

And trade writ large — can you really get anything done, or not, until Brexit?

And I also want to go back one more time to Anne’s question, which is to say we’re all writing stories about the protesters.  And I know this is probably a politically delicate question for you guys, but hoping you can answer.  Is the President upset by protestors?  Or does he think that’s sort of a vibrant part of democracy and whatever?  He had a taste of that at the last visit with the big floating balloon.  Are you — is he cool with that?  Or does he have issues with that?  They may be at the airport, at Shannon, for the bilat.  They may be all over the city.  How does he actually feel about this?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, I think the President can speak for himself, (inaudible) have on previous occasions.  And, you know, can you can ask him as he’s leaving.  But he hasn’t made any — certainly any comments that we’ve seen that show any particular concern about this issue.

In terms of the other issues you described about trade, that’s obviously going to be on the agenda.  But you have to also remember that the President’s discussions with Prime Minister May come against the backdrop of a continuous set of engagements and interactions between U.S. and UK counterparts.

And so, although they will obviously discuss these issues, we’ve already been thoroughly exploring them over the course of several months now.  So I don’t think that this is going to be some major earth-shattering breakthrough on any of the issues that you described.  But we’ll be discussing the broader end of international, as well as our bilateral issues during the meeting.  And then, obviously, setting the stage for continued discussions with whoever succeeds the Prime Minister over the next several months.

Q    Have you guys advised the President on whether or not it’s appropriate to weigh in on who the next PM should be?  Or will he stay out of it?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The Prime Minister — sorry, I mean, the President was already asked about those questions yesterday in his press conference, and I think he made his position clear on that, that he wasn’t going to be drawn into any speculation.

Q    Hi, this is (inaudible).  Can I just check, with May, will he be discussing Huawei and the issues about Huawei, especially with the UK saying it is allowing Huawei to operate?  And in France, will we be sure that Trump is going to be make it to the cemetery?  The last time he was here, he actually didn’t make it (inaudible) cemetery.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the last point there.  But in terms of the trade issues, you know, obviously there will be a full-ranging discussion here.  And we can’t, obviously, prefigure how the details — nature of the call is going to be in advance.  But, you know, we have a full agenda that’s being prepared on both sides.  So, you know, we’ll be able to — obviously, you’ll be able to ask questions about this after the meeting as well, in the various press opportunities.

Q    And will there be more pressure piled onto the UK?  We’ve heard that there’s potential threats that there won’t be any information sharing.  Is that something that the President is going to use in his leverage to try and get the UK to block out Huawei?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Again, we’re getting ahead of ourselves in discussions, but we continue to have very serious and in-depth discussions with our UK colleagues on this and all these other topics as well.  They’re very frank.  And the UK has every ample opportunity to lay out its positions and — for a full exchange.  So I don’t think we need to over-dramatize this in any way.

Q    Hi, this is Sally Bronson (ph) with NBC News.  You’ve mentioned a few times that the President did an interview yesterday where he discussed aspects of the trip.  Could you speak further about that?  Was that was UK or French press?  And is that — who specifically?  And is that something that is going — is it still under embargo?  Is it going to be released? I was just a little confused about that, so I’m wondering if you could clarify, please.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, I think we’d have to turn that over to White House staff.  We saw, ourselves, kind of a quick review of some of this.  It was a Q&A that he gave in press.  So there was a number of things.  I think some of it has come out on the White House Press.  Perhaps our colleagues can comment on that.

Q    So there was nothing specific — no interview at least that you’re aware of — that he gave specifically to UK or French press that has not yet been released?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  (Inaudible) in the United States, I don’t believe there was anything on French press.  I’d have to defer to our colleagues at the NSC and White House Press if there was anything additional that you’re referring to.  But this is in a various Q&A that he’s given with other press outlets yesterday.

PRESS OFFICER:  I know one of the references that my colleague mentioned earlier were comments that the President made at a press gaggle.  So if there are other things coming out, you’ll see them in the press.  But we don’t have anything else to announce regarding that at this time.

Q    Okay, understood.  There were a few references to interviews, and I just wanted to make sure we had all of that.  So, thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  That’s because I’m not a (inaudible), so I incorrectly referred to interviews because I was thinking about the Q&A and the press gaggle.  I guess I’ll have to get — I think these guys are going to have to kick me into shape into using the right terminology.  So I apologize for any confusion there.

Q    All good.  Thank you very much for answering.

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