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Trump heads to UK with a 'nasty' debate in tow

President Donald Trump on Sunday at McLean Bible

President Donald Trump on Sunday at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Va. Credit: AP / Jacquelyn Martin

'Nasty' start to UK visit

President Donald Trump departed for a weeklong trip to England, Ireland and France on Sunday, but before crossing the pond, Trump was already making waves over his use of the word “nasty” when responding to a question about the American actress turned Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

“I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty,’ ” Trump tweeted on Sunday, hours before his departure. “Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold! Will @CNN, @nytimes and others apologize? Doubt it!”

Trump’s pushback came amid growing uproar over an interview he gave the British tabloid “The Sun” on Friday, in which he used the word “nasty” when asked about Markle’s previous public criticisms of Trump.

The interviewer told Trump that Markle, who is married to Prince Harry, wouldn’t be on hand to greet the president “because she’s got maternity leave” and proceeded to ask, “Are you sorry not to see her? Because she wasn’t so nice about you during the campaign. I don’t know if you saw that.”

“I didn’t know that, no. I didn’t know that. No, I hope she’s OK. I did not know that, no,” Trump replied.

The interviewer recounted that in 2016, before she married into the British royal family, the California native “said she’d move to Canada if you got elected. It turned out she moved to Britain." Trump replied: “A lot of people moving here [to the U.S.], so what can I say? No, I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

Trump campaign officials have said the president was referring to Markle’s comments as nasty, but his critics note his past use of the term to describe Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Donald de Bloviates

Trump early Monday played the insult comic again as he was landing, calling London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Twitter a "stone cold loser," apparently an indirect response to Khan calling him part of a global political threat.

Saying he wouldn't meet with Khan, he called the mayor a "twin of de Blasio, except shorter." That continues the riff prompted by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio launching an unlikely presidential campaign of his own. 

Trump also whined about CNN, again.

Brits brace for Trump

Asked if Trump’s remarks in "The Sun" would disrupt his three-day state visit to the U.K., British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt told CBS' “Face the Nation”: "I don't think it's going to disrupt the welcome at all.”

“I think the other thing we've learned from the president is that you know regularly we have to agree to disagree, and there's a whole list of things that we don't agree with the administration on, but it doesn't affect the fact that we have the most important partnership that there is in the world for freedom, democracy, the rule of law, the things that really matter, and that's what we're celebrating,” Hunt said.

Trump’s U.K. trip comes as that country’s parliament wrestles with deciding on a new prime minister now that Theresa May is expected to step down at the end of the week. Protesters are also promising to line the streets of London. 

Dems divided on post-Mueller approach

As Trump heads overseas, lawmakers return to Capitol Hill after spending time in their home districts. On the minds of many congressional Democrats is how to proceed on the thorny issue of impeachment.

The New York Times reports that congressional Democrats are split on how to draw the public's attention to the president’s alleged attempts to obstruct the special counsel’s Russia investigation, as outlined in the Mueller report released in April.

A growing number of congressional Democrats — some 50 to date — are calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to greenlight opening an impeachment inquiry, a move she has so far resisted, calling it “divisive.” Others are banking that special counsel Robert Mueller will be ultimately compelled to testify before lawmakers in public hearings that could be broadcast to the masses.

“I heard someone say if we could just get Mueller to sit in the committee and read the report, eight hours a day, five days a week, it would probably have a much bigger impact on the American public,” Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) told the Times. “We’re a visual country. That’s how we accept our news.”

'Deadly serious' tariff threat

Trump is “deadly serious” about imposing a 5 percent tariff on all goods imported from Mexico starting next week, said acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Mulvaney, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” insisted that Trump would “absolutely” follow through on his plans to levy tariffs until the Trump administration decides Mexico has done enough to step up its own border security efforts.

The president previously walked back similar economic threats against Mexico. In March, Trump announced via tweet he would shut the U.S. border with Mexico to trade, before reversing course on the idea a month later, saying he would give Mexico a “one-year notice” instead. Last month, the Trump administration lifted tariffs on aluminum and steel products imported from Mexico and Canada as part of trade negotiations.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Trump had considered levying tariffs on Australia. When asked about the report Sunday evening, Trump only told reporters that the United States and Australia shared a "special relationship."

For more on Mulvaney’s interview, read Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.

Janison: The ‘Tariff Man’ Cometh

Since taking office, Trump has imposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum exports, increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and has now ordered a gradually increasing tariff on all Mexican imported goods.

Trump in a tweet last year dubbed himself “a tariff man” and as Newsday’s Dan Janison notes, the president has come to embrace his tariff authority as a bargaining tool.

It is in the political arena that one feature of imposing tariffs appeals especially to Trump: He can set them without congressional approval and cancel them at will. Read Janison’s full column here.

What else is happening:

  • Trump made an unannounced stop at a Northern Virginia church on Sunday while en route from his namesake golf course to Washington. White House officials said the stop was to “pray for the victims and community of Virginia Beach,” but none of the victims was mentioned during Trump's quick stop and he did not speak.
  • Emmet Flood, the White House counsel tapped to deal with all things related to the special counsel's investigation, is stepping down from his post now that the Mueller probe has wrapped up.
  • Mulvaney, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said the White House request to move the USS John McCain ahead of Trump's visit to Japan was "not an unreasonable thing."
  • A Trump Tower project in Uruguay has been riddled by delays and lagging sales, according to a New York Times report.

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