Donald Trump routinely embarrassed his aides with ignorant or tone-deaf remarks to foreign leaders, according to one his former national security staffers.
Fiona Hill, who testified against Trump in his first impeachment, told the New York Times Magazine that the former president didn't understand much about world affairs and made no effort to learn, which often led to awkward exchanges in high-level meetings -- and cited one discussion with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"Erdogan goes from talking about the history of the Ottoman Empire to when he was mayor of Istanbul, and you can see he’s not listening and has no idea what Erdogan’s talking about," Hill said.
Another time Trump cheerfully joked to Erdogan that most Americans knew little about his country except for what they'd seen in “Midnight Express,” a 1978 film set inside a Turkish prison.
“Bad image — you need to make a different film,” Trump said, according to Hill, who said she reacted with horror.
She agreed with other former aides and staffers that Trump preferred visual material instead of text.
"That’s spot on," Hill said. "There were several moments of just utter embarrassment where he would see a magazine story about one of his favorite leaders, be it Erdogan or Macron. He’d see a picture of them, and he’d want it sent to them through the embassies, and when we’d read the articles, the articles are not flattering. They’re quite critical. Obviously, we can’t send this! But then he’d want to know if they’d gotten the picture and the article, which he’d signed: ‘Emmanuel, you look wonderful. Looking so strong.’”
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