Trump blasts Iran deal as 'insane' and 'ridiculous' as Macron looks on

President Donald Trump railed against the Iran nuclear deal Tuesday, calling the Obama administration-negotiated agre...

Posted: Apr 24, 2018 6:08 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2018 6:08 PM

President Donald Trump railed against the Iran nuclear deal Tuesday, calling the Obama administration-negotiated agreement "insane" and "ridiculous" for failing to contain Tehran. Still, he maintained he could soon strike an agreement with his visitor, French President Emmanuel Macron, who is hoping to salvage the international accord.

The outburst in the Oval Office proved that a dinner of Dover sole and a glitzy military welcome could not paper over the two leaders' differences as they begin an elaborate state visit, the first of Trump's presidency.

Trump offered scant assurances to Macron that he was reconsidering his pledge to exit the Iran agreement.

"People know my views on the Iran deal," Trump said. "It was a terrible deal. It should have never been made."

During a second meeting in the Cabinet Room, however, Trump signaled that a compromise may be near.

"We could have at least an agreement among ourselves fairly quickly," he said. "I think we're fairly close to understanding each other. And I think our meeting, our one-on-one went very, very well."

At the same time, he threatened Iran with unspecified punishment if they resume their nuclear program.

"They will have bigger problems than they ever had before," he said.

It was an auspicious start to Trump's inaugural state visit, which has been in the works for months. Earlier in the day, the two men put forward an elaborate show of friendship on the South Lawn, reviewing cordons of troops in formation and recalling the long history between the US and France.

Trump then seemingly sought to put to rest any notion he might be swayed on the Iran deal, which Macron hopes to save, perhaps by altering its terms.

"Iran seems to be behind everywhere there is a problem," Trump said in the Oval Office. "They're testing missiles. What is that all about?"

"What kind of a deal is this where it wasn't even discussed?" he added.

Iran deal negotiations

Trump has threatened to pull out of the Iran deal and snap back US sanctions on Iran by May 12 unless major changes are made to the agreement brokered by the previous US administration, which capped Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. France, Germany and the United Kingdom -- key signatories to the deal -- are in the midst of negotiations with the US aimed at assuaging some of Trump's concerns, but large gaps still remain.

Already, some US administration officials have been preparing options for withdrawal from the agreement, hoping to be ready should Trump abruptly make his announcement over Twitter. Macron's visit is viewed as critical to swaying Trump toward a compromise, rather than the all-or-nothing approach he has signaled on the Iran deal.

Macron on Tuesday insisted the Iran deal is "important" and stressed viewing it as part of a regional strategy.

"We have to take it as a part of the broader picture of security in the region," he said in English.

But Trump hardly sounded convinced.

"It's insane, it's ridiculous, it should have never been made," he said. "But we'll be talking about it."

Trump is deploying the full trappings of formal state entertaining for the first time in the hopes an elaborate display of diplomacy can lead to a deeper bond with the young French leader. First Lady Melania Trump, who emerged from the South Portico on Tuesday wearing a dramatic wide-brimmed white hat, has been overseeing preparations, including a three-course state dinner on Tuesday that features rack of lamb and jambalaya.

But beneath the pomp and circumstance the state visit brings -- streets lined with fluttering French and American flags, an elaborate military welcome and the meticulously planned dinner -- the two leaders are tackling a slew of pressing policy issues, from the Iran deal to the Syrian civil war, climate, counterterrorism and Russian aggression.

Standing before a military display on the South Lawn, Trump hailed the US-France alliance without mentioning the areas of difference. Macron, he said later, was doing a "great job" as president.

Macron, however, did not avoid the topic, saying the differences over climate change were surmountable.

"On this issue we do not always agree as to the solutions, but in the end, such is the case in any family and in any friendship, and it is also where the fate of our children is at stake," he said through a translator.

He also warned against the rise of "aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world," a potent subject both in France, where anti-semitism and nativist immigration stances have swelled, and the United States, where white nationalist rallies have drawn condemnation, though not from Trump.

"It is together that we will build a new, strong that defend democracy in the face of ill winds," Macron said.

Full display of pomp

Macron touched down in Washington midday Monday aboard a French government plane. Later, the couple greeted Trump at the West Wing with kisses on each cheek to formally begin the visit.

Joined by Melania Trump, the foursome used golden shovels to plant a European Sessile oak tree on the South Lawn that had been plucked from the Belleau Woods, northeast of Paris, where 9,000 American troops lost their lives during World War I. They departed soon after aboard a helicopter to Mount Vernon, the riverfront estate of George Washington, for a private dinner of lemon-ricotta agnolotti with citrus butter, salad, ballotine of Dover sole with lemon curd and heirloom asparagus and chocolate souffl- with cherry vanilla ice cream.

Trump's friendly discussion with Macron at Mount Vernon centered partly on the American political and economic situation, specifically the upcoming midterm elections and Trump's ranking in polls, a French official said.

Trump has tweeted regularly about his polls, which he insists are higher than people realize.

Expected matters, such as Syria and trade also arose, as did the fight against radicalization. The leaders also raised the issue of Internet regulation, a matter of hot debate in both France and the US after Russian attempts to interfere in elections.

Underlying competitiveness

The French leader -- who has been dubbed a "Trump whisperer" by some -- has forged one of the closest relationships Trump maintains with any world leader, some of whom he has openly feuded with or belittled.

But beneath the outward bonhomie is an underlying competitiveness, according to US and French officials familiar with the two men's relationship. Both are alpha males highly attuned to their own reputations, and each entered office with grand promises of shattering their country's political status quo. Officials in both countries have downplayed the notion of a "bromance," insisting the two men are not close personal friends but rather closely aligned allies.

Ever since May, when the two men met for the first time inside the US ambassador's residence in Brussels, fascination has swirled around their relationship. That first meeting was marked by strained grins and a lengthy, white-knuckled handshake that immediately went viral online.

Even before that session, which occurred on the sidelines of a NATO summit, Macron has carefully approached his interactions with an unpredictable American leader. He studied videos of Trump's handshakes, which sometimes include a firm tug inward. He and his aides continue to closely monitor Trump's Twitter feed for a daily reading of the US President's mood and his shifting policy sentiments.

Perhaps most shrewdly, Macron recognized that Europe's other dominant leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, would be permanently tarnished in Trump's mind after fostering deeply personal ties to President Barack Obama. Long averse to his predecessor's policies and platforms, Trump has viewed Merkel as irrevocably tied to Obama, according to people who have spoken to him.

Macron has cast himself as a blank slate, without a pre-existing relationship that might color his interactions with Trump (though Macron has met privately with Obama, and even secured Obama's endorsement during his campaign last spring).

Merkel will visit the White House on Friday with none of the elaborate trimmings associated with a state visit. Once the favored European leader for US presidents, including Obama and President George W. Bush, Merkel got off to a frosty start with Trump and struggled to recover. The two leaders went more than five months without speaking earlier this year.

Terre Haute
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 83°
Robinson
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 84°
Indianapolis
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 81°
Rockville
Partly Cloudy
83° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 83°
Casey
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 82°
Brazil
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 83°
Marshall
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 83°
A Comfortable Overnight
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1582392

Reported Deaths: 26884
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook60726610902
DuPage1026891351
Will862101080
Lake761221053
Kane65145838
Winnebago38503541
Madison37519564
St. Clair34621558
McHenry32619311
Peoria25609359
Champaign25478182
Sangamon24108264
McLean21470203
Tazewell19477326
Rock Island17502342
Kankakee16409232
Kendall15177104
LaSalle14258273
Macon14134230
Vermilion12805180
Adams12525147
DeKalb11460126
Williamson11116152
Whiteside7759176
Boone753381
Jackson748379
Coles7121109
Ogle699985
Grundy690481
Clinton673597
Franklin658994
Knox6439163
Marion6392135
Macoupin629997
Henry604172
Jefferson5933130
Effingham580980
Livingston560294
Woodford548291
Stephenson534088
Randolph517096
Monroe501098
Morgan477995
Fulton475369
Christian474980
Logan471373
Montgomery459776
Lee452456
Bureau421687
Perry407770
Saline393562
Iroquois389170
Fayette385256
McDonough350855
Jersey318753
Douglas301236
Shelby296943
Crawford294030
Union292445
Lawrence291031
Wayne263956
White259229
Richland254052
Hancock250934
Pike249456
Cass245628
Bond241524
Clark241038
Ford232755
Clay230547
Edgar226844
Carroll223637
Warren218655
Johnson207821
Moultrie206730
Washington203827
Jo Daviess201624
Greene197738
Mason194551
Wabash193715
Massac192643
De Witt191230
Piatt188314
Mercer185434
Cumberland172423
Menard154112
Jasper148718
Marshall132721
Hamilton125720
Brown10127
Pulaski96711
Schuyler9568
Edwards94015
Stark75426
Gallatin7214
Scott6885
Alexander66011
Calhoun6342
Henderson62614
Hardin55413
Putnam5414
Pope4685
Unassigned1192432
Out of IL80

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 918230

Reported Deaths: 15011
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1252491952
Lake623371084
Allen52301746
Hamilton43009443
St. Joseph41155584
Elkhart32831485
Vanderburgh29698436
Tippecanoe26442247
Johnson23106414
Hendricks21708338
Porter21255340
Clark16988222
Madison16899378
Vigo15562272
Monroe14186190
LaPorte13961235
Delaware13613215
Howard13531258
Kosciusko11150134
Hancock10534159
Warrick10431174
Bartholomew10233166
Floyd10099202
Wayne9557216
Grant8858194
Morgan8654158
Boone8231109
Dubois7521123
Henry7391126
Dearborn734186
Noble7208100
Marshall7168127
Cass7060117
Lawrence6803150
Jackson638980
Shelby6386106
Gibson5999105
Harrison587984
Huntington586490
Montgomery5663101
DeKalb555691
Knox532999
Miami523183
Clinton522464
Putnam519067
Whitley509851
Steuben480267
Wabash470192
Jasper465760
Jefferson456091
Ripley439074
Adams435565
Daviess4008106
Scott389563
White383457
Decatur376895
Clay376455
Greene375589
Wells375183
Fayette363074
Posey351841
Jennings341756
Washington324046
LaGrange312074
Spencer310734
Fountain306553
Randolph302087
Sullivan294947
Owen275961
Orange269659
Starke268961
Fulton264451
Jay248134
Perry244950
Carroll239926
Franklin229337
Vermillion225850
Rush225530
Parke212020
Tipton205354
Pike200938
Blackford163834
Pulaski155250
Crawford140818
Benton138316
Newton138141
Brown130646
Martin124416
Switzerland122310
Warren112616
Union92211
Ohio75811
Unassigned0461