After embarrassing Theresa May in interview with The Sun, Trump apologizes to her

The president claimed that parts of his interview with The Sun, a Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid, were "fake news"

Published July 13, 2018 10:37AM (EDT)

Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a joint press conference following their meeting at Chequers on July 13, 2018 in Aylesbury, England. (Getty/Jack Taylor)
Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a joint press conference following their meeting at Chequers on July 13, 2018 in Aylesbury, England. (Getty/Jack Taylor)

During a joint press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, President Donald Trump dismissed as "fake news" an on-the-record interview with The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper owned by a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., in which he criticized his British Prime Minister Theresa May.

"I didn't criticize the prime minister," he insisted during a joint press conference with his British counterpart on Friday.

That statement was directly contradicted by the facts, however, even as the president at one point refused to answer a question from a CNN reporter on the grounds that it's "fake news."

“I said very good things about her” in the interview, Trump said. “She’s a total professional, because when I saw her this morning I said, ‘I want to apologize, because I said such good things about you.”’

Trump's extensive interview with The Sun also included swipes at London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Europe's comparatively liberal immigration policies — the latter in terms that can only accurately be described as racist.

On immigration, Trump implicitly made it clear that he felt the influx of non-whites into Europe was destroying the culture of that continent.

"I have great love for countries in Europe. Don’t forget, essentially I’m a product of the European Union, between Scotland and Germany. Right? My father Germany, my mother Scotland," Trump told the Sun. "I think what has happened to Europe is a shame. Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame. I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way."

He added, "So I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago."

Trump reiterated these sentiments during his joint press conference with May on Friday, making it clear that he deplores the wave of immigration to Europe as eroding the culture of that continent.

When discussing May's preference for a so-called "soft Brexit" deal with the European Union that would maintain close ties with the multinational organization, Trump insisted that she had ignored his own advice.

"If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal," Trump told The Sun. He added, perhaps superfluously, "If they do that, then their trade deal with the US will probably not be made."

As Trump put it, May's position on the European Union and trade "will definitely affect trade with the United States, unfortunately in a negative way."

He added, "We have enough difficulty with the European Union. We are cracking down right now on the European Union because they have not treated the United States fairly on trading. No, if they do that I would say that that would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States."

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Trump also agreed with the position of former May cabinet member Boris Johnson, who resigned earlier this week, when he said that Trump would have gone in "bloody hard" in the Brexit negotiations.

"I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me. She wanted to go a different route," Trump told the Sun. "I would actually say that she probably went the opposite way. And that is fine. She should negotiate the best way she knows how. But it is too bad what is going on."

Trump also threw another bouquet toward Johnson, this time by stating that he thought the departing politician would make a fine Prime Minister.

"I have a lot of respect for Boris. He obviously likes me, and says very good things about me," Trump told the Sun. "I was very saddened to see he was leaving government and I hope he goes back in at some point. I think he is a great representative for your country."

When asked if he thought Johnson should be the next prime minister, Trump said "Well I am not pitting one against the other. I am just saying I think he would be a great Prime Minister. I think he’s got what it takes."

The politician who received the harshest words from Trump was Sadiq Khan, the current mayor of London as well as the first Muslim to lead the city.

"I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad," Trump told the Sun. "I look at cities in Europe, and I can be specific if you’d like. You have a mayor who has done a terrible job in London. He has done a terrible job. Take a look at the terrorism that is taking place. Look at what is going on in London. I think he has done a very bad job on terrorism."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He specializes in covering science and history, and is particularly passionate about climate change, animal science, disability rights, plastic pollution and a wide range of political issues. He has interviewed many prominent figures (reflecting his diverse interests) including President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), actress Cady McClain ("All My Children"), Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges Benjamin (2002-present), comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2") and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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Brexit Donald Trump England Great Britain Immigration Sadiq Khan Theresa May United Kingdom