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Press: Trump loves Thugs

How times have changed. There was a time when the visit of a foreign leader to the White House was a very special deal. With all the fanfare a democracy could muster, the president would welcome the queen of England, the president of France, the prime minister of Israel and others — who were our strategic partners but, more importantly, who shared our values.

How times have changed. Today, President Trump will roll out the red carpet for anybody who shows up. They don’t have to agree on policy. They don’t even have to share our values. Anybody’s welcome, as long as they’re willing to say nice things about Trump. And he, in turn, will say nice things about them.

Just last week, for example, Trump welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House, shortly after congratulating him for his “legendary triumph” in passing a referendum that greated expanded Erdogan’s authority. Since last July’s failed coup attempt, Erdogan has purged more than 100,000 civil servants, judges, teachers, soldiers and police officers. Turkey’s also jailed more journalists than other country. After he left the Oval Office,  Erdogan’s goons beat up protesters in the streets of Washington.

{mosads}Erdogan’s visit came just a couple of days after Trump yukked it up in the Oval Office with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — a meeting set up by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, whom Trump has repeatedly praised as a strong leader.

Another recent visitor: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whom President Obama banned from the Oval Office because of the harshest political repression in Egypt’s history. Trump called him a “fantastic guy” and praised his “tough approach.”

It was at Mar-a-Lago, not the White House, where Trump decided to embrace President Xi Jinping, notorious for continuing China’s religious repression, crackdowns on free speech and imprisonment of political dissidents. The New York Times recently reported that, under Xi, China has killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 CIA contacts. Trump called him “a tremendous person.”

Also invited, but not yet appearing in the White House: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, whose secret police have executed more than 7,000 suspected drug users since he took office less than a year ago. Trump even said he’d be “honored” to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whom he also called “a smart cookie.”

And, of course, Trump just left Saudi Arabia without saying a word about human rights in public — even though, according to Human Rights Watch, the Saudis continue a regime of “arbitrary arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful dissidents” and where women still don’t have the right to drive a car or leave their home without a male escort.

Overall, in dealing with foreign leaders, Trump has shown more respect and adoration for strongmen than he has for democratic allies like Germany’s Angela Merkel, with whom he wouldn’t even shake hands — while, at the same time, showing little interest in promoting human rights. Welcome to the White House. Thugs and scoundrels at the head of the line.

 

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.” The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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