President Donald Trump cancelled a scheduled press conference at the G20 on Saturday, writing in a tweet that it was done ‘out of respect for the Bush Family and former President George H.W. Bush.’
But the president has many questions to answer about his domestic and foreign affairs.
Tropics likely to come up include what he as accomplished during his time here, including the status of critical trade negotiations with China, his relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman at his meetings here plus there remain many questions to answer about his business deals, including the new guilty plea from his former personal attorney Michael Cohen and the questions he answered from special counsel Robert Mueller.
The president told reporters during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he would hold a press conference after Bush’s funeral.
‘We decided, as you know, we were going to have a big press conference today, which I actually looked forward to because we made tremendous progress at the G20 with many nations and we were going to have a very big press conference and, out of respect for President Bush, we’ve cancelled here and we’ll have it back in Washington sometime in the near future, after the funeral service’ he said.
President Trump cancelled his press conference scheduled for Saturday at the G20
Trump said it was done out of respect for the Bush family in the wake of the death of former President George W. Bush
The president had announced the cancellation in tweets earlier in the day.
‘I was very much looking forward to having a press conference just prior to leaving Argentina because we have had such great success in our dealing with various countries and their leaders at the G20….
….However, out of respect for the Bush Family and former President George H.W. Bush we will wait until after the funeral to have a press conference,’ he wrote in a pair of tweets on Saturday morning.
But the optics that would come out of Saturday’s press conference would likely not paint the White House in a good light.
There are the personal problems that have consumed the president’s thoughts and twitter account while he’s been here.
Trump began his first day at the G20 summit defending his business dealings and casting himself as a victim of Mueller in a series of tweets.
‘Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail…
….Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!,’ the president wrote in a pair of tweets on Friday morning.
President Trump, in a Saturday meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said he would hold a press conference after the late President Bush was buried
Trump has little to tout from his G20 session; he’s seen here with his fellow world leaders in their photo with spouses
His Twitter blast came after Cohen admitted to lying to lawmakers about about his business talks withRussia during the 2016 campaign.
Trump has been in a defense posture since Cohen’s latest plea deal was revealed on Thursday.
Adding to the pressure are reports that name his daughter Ivanka Trump and son Donald Trump Jr. as being more involved in looking at the Trump Tower Moscow project than previously revealed.
The Trump Tower project in Moscow never got off the ground, but the Trump Organization didn’t shelve it until June 2016, long after the future president had locked up the GOP’s White House nomination.
One detail in the Cohen case could be especially damaging to the president: Mueller’s team charged that Cohen had promised Trump would visit Moscow personally to pitch the building project, but not until after the 2016 Republican National Convention when he would have the security of being the GOP’s presidential nominee.
Cohen admitted falsely telling House and Senate Intelligence Committee investigators earlier this year that the Moscow project didn’t extend past January 2016.
The president would likely be asked about all of this at his presser.
He also does not have a lot to announced after nearly two days at the G20. Even before he arrived one of his major meetings – with Putin – was cancelled and two other meetings with U.S. allies were down graded to ‘pull asides’ – a term for more information conversations.
The press conference was scheduled before his dinner meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday night, leading to questions about why the administration would hold such an event before the dinner, where a trade deal was to be discussed.
Trump has remained optimistic that a trade deal can be reached with Beijing but no concrete details have emerged.
‘We’re working very hard. If we can make a deal that’d be good. I think they want to, and I think we’d like to,’ he told reporters during a meeting with Japan’s Shinzo Abe. ‘There’s some good signs. We’ll see what happens.’
But he also said as he was leaving the White House on Thursday for Buenos Aires that he’s ‘open’ to an agreement with China, but he’d be content with the ‘deal’ that’s already in place between the nations, in an apparent reference to the $250 billion in tariffs he’s slapped on the rival power since June.
Michael Cohen, former lawyer to President Donald Trump, was in federal court on Thursday to enter his latest guilty plea
Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Cohen with lying to Congress about a plan to build a Trump Tower project in Moscow
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow had warned this week that ‘certain conditions have to be met with respect to fairness and reciprocities’ in order for an a detente to be reached.
‘The president said, there is a good possibility that we can make a deal,’ Kudlow told White House reporters said at a televised briefing on Tuesday outlining the goals of the United States at the G20. ‘But on the other hand, if these conditions I mentioned a few moments ago are not met and not dealt with — you know, the president said, look, he’s perfectly happy to stand on his tariff policies.’
The one trade deal the president did sign – with Mexico and Canada – was overshadowed by the obvious unhappiness of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who wouldn’t confirm his attendance to the event until late the night before.
Trudeau used the occasion to chastise the president over steel and aluminum tariffs and pointedly called the agreement the ‘new North American Free Trade Agreement’ – instead of the USMCA, which is Trump’s preferred moniker.
He made a personal plea to Trump during the ceremony to get rid of the tariffs, saying the recent closures of auto plants by General Motors in the United States and Canada made it more important for cooperation.
And he used the president’s first name in his remarks, a sign of informality that can irk Trump.
‘Donald it’s all the more reason we need to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our two countries,’ Trudeau said.
After Trump, Trudeau, and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the agreement, Trump held his up and said: ‘We might as well hold that up.’
Nieto did so. Trudeau did not but sat there smiling for the clicking cameras.
President Donald Trump and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto hold up copies of the trade pact for the photo op while Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not
Trump is scheduled to meet with President Xi on Saturday night; they are seen here together last year during Trump’s visit to Beijing
The prime minister’s schedule for Buenos Aires did not initially list the ceremony.
He ended up attending and said the deal “maintains stability for Canada’s entire economy” and removes the dangers associated with the U.S. threat to withdraw from trade relations.
“That’s why I’m here today,” he said. “The new agreement lifts the risk of serious economic uncertainty that lingers throughout a trade renegotiation process.”
President Trump was also likely to face questions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who Trump canceled a meeting with when he was in route to Argentina, and questions about his run in with Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Both men are in the middle of international scandals of their own making.
Trump said it wasn’t the ‘right time’ for him to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin given the country’s seizure of Ukrainian ships and noted ‘I can’t read his mind’ when it comes to his counterpart’s actions.
‘I can’t read his mind, and nobody can,’ Trump told Voice of America when asked why Putin directed Russia’s military forces to take three Ukrainian vessels.
‘He knows what he wants to do, but we can’t allow certain things to happen, you know, it happened, and I just can’t be a part of it,’ Trump added.
Russia’s aggression toward the Ukraine sparked international outrage and was the reason Trump gave for canceling his scheduled sit down with him at the G20 summit.
‘Frankly, in light of what happened with Ukraine with the ships and the sailors, it just wouldn’t be the right time, but I will meet with him. I think we have a very good relationship, and I think we’re going to have a very good relationship with Russia, and China, and everyone else. I mean, I think it’s important. So I’ll meet with him at the appropriate time,’ the president told Voice of America.
And White House officials had to deny that the two men would engage in a ‘pull aside’ – State Department term for informal, unscheduled talks between world leaders that can happen at summits – during their two days in Argentina.
The denial came after he Kremlin told Reuters the president will speak with the Russian leader after all – a story the White House scrambled to denounce.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also used that opportunity to slam special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation for undermining U.S.-Russian relations but claimed President Trump nixed the Putin meeting over Ukraine.
She made the notable attack on the special counsel amid speculation that the president pulled out of his planned meeting with Putin in part due to blowback from the stunning guilty plea by his former lawyer Michael Cohen to an additional charge.
‘The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is hopefully now nearing an end, is doing very well. Unfortunately, it probably does undermine our relationship with Russia. However, the reason for our canceled meeting is Ukraine. Hopefully, that will be resolved soon so that productive conversations can begin,’ Sanders said.
The president gave Putin and the prince the side-eye at a family photo event on Friday and did not speak to either one.
President Trump side-eyed Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi prince at a family photo event on Friday
President Donald Trump did have an encounter with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the G20 on Friday as first daughter Ivanka Trump looked on
Trump did end up ‘exchanging pleasantries’ with Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the G20 on Friday after avoiding talking to him during the ‘family’ photo session that afternoon.
Cameras at the summit caught the president talking with the prince during a luncheon after the photo taking.
‘They exchanged pleasantries at the leaders session as he did with nearly every leader in attendance,’ a senior White House official said on background.
But the president said he did not talk to the prince, who faces international condemnation for his role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
‘We had no discussion. We might, but we had none,’ he said during a photo opportunity with Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan and Narendra Modi of India.
Camera footage from the luncheon event shows Trump with the prince as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and first daughter Ivanka Trump look on.