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Trump backs Boris Johnson, sends mixed signals on China at G7

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US President Donald Trump on Sunday backed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the “right man” for Brexit and sent mixed signals about his trade war with China at a G7 summit dominated by worries about the global economy.

Johnson and Trump were on obviously friendly terms as they sat down for a working breakfast in the southern French resort of Biarritz where Group of Seven leaders are gathering this weekend.

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“He’s going to be a fantastic prime minister,” Trump said in their first meeting since Johnson took office last month.

Asked what his advice was for Brexit, Trump replied: “He needs no advice. He’s the right man for the job. I’ve been saying that for a long time.”

In the lead-up to the talks, Johnson had appeared at pains to distance himself from Trump after facing accusations in the past of being too cosy with the American leader.

And at their meeting, Johnson again pressed a common message from European leaders at the summit about Trump’s escalating trade war with China.

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“Just to register a faint, sheep-like note of our view on the trade war — we are in favour of trade peace on the whole,” Johnson told Trump.

The 73-year-old US leader promised Johnson “very big trade deal, bigger than we’ve ever had”, but couldn’t resist another undiplomatic dig at the European Union.

Trump compared it to an “anchor around their ankle”.

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– ‘Respect the trade war’ –

But to the relief of his partners, Trump also appeared to back off from a threatened further escalation in his battle with China.

“I think they respect the trade war. It has to happen,” Trump told reporters.

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Asked whether he was having second thoughts, he replied: “I have second thoughts about everything.”

The Basque resort of Biarritz, which at this time of year usually teems with surfers and sunbathers, has been turned into a fortress for the G7 event with over 13,000 police on duty.

An anti-capitalism demonstration in nearby Bayonne turned ugly Saturday night when the crowd of several hundred tried to get through police barricades and was repelled with water cannon and tear gas.

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Earlier on Saturday, organisers in the French border town of Hendaye said 15,000 people rallied in a peaceful march over the Bidassoa River towards the Spanish town of Irun.

G7 summits, gathering Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, were once a meeting of like-minded allies, but they have become a diplomatic battlefield in the Trump era.

“This may be the last moment to restore our political community,” EU Council president Donald Tusk said on Saturday.

– Iran divisions –

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Over an open dinner dinner of red tuna at the foot of a landmark lighthouse in the famed surf town of Biarritz, the leaders began talks on Saturday night attempting to narrow their differences.

The US-China trade war, but also fires in the Amazon and the Iranian nuclear crisis, were on the menu.

“You did very well last night President Macron,” Johnson told his French host as the leaders met for a session to discuss the world economy. “That was a difficult one.”

In a sign of the difficulties, Macron thought he had agreed a common G7 position on Iran to try to find a way out of the current impasse that has seen tensions spiral in the Middle East.

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Macron said in an interview to French television that they had “agreed on what to say to Iran”.

But Trump, who has previously accused Macron of sending “mixed signals” to Iran, denied it.

“We’ll do our own outreach. But you can’t stop people from talking. If they want to talk, they can talk,” he said.

In a radical break from previous meetings of the elite club, there is to be no final statement at the end of the talks on Monday, an admission of lowered expectations.

Macron has also invited several world leaders from outside the G7 such as India’s Narendra Modi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who will join the meeting on Sunday.

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Macron is also pushing for action against fires in the Amazon rainforest, despite Brazilian right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s angry response to what he sees as outside interference.


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WATCH: Lewandowski’s lawyer freaks out, tries to block Congress from asking any further questions

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During the House Judiciary Committee testimony of President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski about the Russia investigation, Lewandowski's attorney frantically crashed the witness table and demanded that Congress stop asking questions of his client.

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"I understand that," said Lewandowski's attorney. "I will leave after I register a formal protest based upon the debate that I heard. These seem to be unauthorized questions and I know you choose your words carefully—"

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Lewandowski’s testimony will let Democrats build Nixon-like articles of impeachment: Ex-prosecutor

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As President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski combatively testified before the House Judiciary Committee, he admitted that Trump asked him to communicate to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation must be shut down. Aside from that revelation, most of the testimony was unproductive, with Lewandowski lashing out at members of Congress and running interference for the president.

But as former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote on Twitter, these outbursts — and the fact that Trump sanctioned the way that Lewandowski behaved in the hearing — could be the basis for Democrats to write up articles of impeachment against Trump similar to those drafted against Richard Nixon in 1974:

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Putin aims a weaponized barb at Trump over Saudi attack – and hits the mark

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Russian President Vladimir Putin joked this week about selling defense systems to Riyadh following weekend attacks on Saudi oil facilities. The gag was aimed at US President Donald Trump and it hit the mark with the precision of a guided weapon.

It was a masterful piece of trolling by the czar of trolls – a snide, disparaging jibe with an element of truth twisted into absurdity for maximum effect and laughs. At a joint press conference with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Ankara on Monday, Putin cast his bait into the volatile Persian Gulf region just days after devastating attacks on Saudi oil facilities exposed the limits of the Gulf kingdom’s expensive defense systems.

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