President Donald Trump says he’s eagerly awaiting his French counterpart’s address to the the U.S. Congress today.
The American president, whose schedule is a blank slate today aside from his daily intelligence briefing and a lunch with Apple CEO Tim Cook, offered the French president words of encouragement on Twitter.
‘Busy day planned. Looking forward to watching President Macron of France address a Joint Session of Congress today. This is a great honor and seldom allowed to be done…he will be GREAT!’ Trump tweeted.
President Donald Trump says he’s eagerly awaiting his French counterpart’s address to the the U.S. Congress today
President Trump tweeted that he planned to watch the French president’s address, which will be before a joint session of Congress
A rare convening in the House of Representatives that Trump has only faced twice since his own election, legislators from both chambers are gathering this morning to watch Macron deliver his remarks.
Macron and his wife Brigitte were feted Tuesday on the White House lawn at a distinguished ceremony that featured cannons, a review of the troops and a red carpet.
Both leaders delivered remarks, Trump sticking to prompter and keeping his short and to the point before remarks from Macron in French that went on for nearly twice as long.
Trump hailed Macron as the leader of ‘America’s oldest ally’ and credited the ‘wonderful friendship we have developed over the last year’ as a testament to the bonds between the two country.
Macron returned the warm words before turning to global threats such as North Korea and Iran. He also touched on his country’s desire for ‘free and fair trade’ and effective action on the climate.
‘Our friendship has constantly grown more solid, dipping in the ink of the challenges we have yet to overcome. That is where we stand today. History is calling us,’ he said.
‘It is urging our peoples to find the fortitude that has guided us in the most difficult of times. France and, with it, Europe and the United States, have an appointment with history. We have but one duty, Mr. President, dear friend, to be at that appointment.’
Talks with Trump on Tuesday became momentarily heated as the U.S. president tore into the existing nuclear agreement with Iran.
‘The Iran deal is a disaster. They’re testing missiles. What’s that all about?’ he griped. ‘What kind of a deal is it when you don’t talk about Yemen and you don’t talk about all the other problems that we have with respect to Iran?’
The president lit into former Secretary of State John Kerry. Trump said that ‘despite all of the money that we gave them,’ Kerry ‘didn’t want to discuss it because it was too complicated.’
Obama’s administration transferred $1.7 billion to Iran, the first $400 million of which was sent over in pallets of cash, after the deal was brokered. The money resolved a dispute between the U.S. and Iran over a failed 1970s arms deal. Iran paid the U.S. for the weapons but the U.S. cancelled the deal and froze the funds after an uprising.
‘That’s actual cash, barrels of cash. It’s insane. It’s ridiculous,’ Trump claimed Tuesday in the Oval Office.
Trump appeared to be referring to the fact that the first installment of the payment delivered on wooden pallets in foreign currencies order to comply with sanctions the U.S. has on Iran’s banking system. He said later on Tuesday that he also heard that the money was delivered in boxes, as well as barrels.
‘In barrels, I hear, it was taken out, and in boxes it was taken out — cash — they should have made a deal that covered Yemen, that covered Syria, that covered other parts of the Middle East where Iraq is – where Iran is involved. They didn’t do that,’ he said
Macron talked him down by committing to pursuing a new pact after hours of meetings at the White House with Trump that he said ended in a ‘common reading’ on what is happening in Syria, where the U.S. and Iran both have boots on the ground.
The U.S. joined France and the U.K. on launching airstrikes against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s government after his latest chemical weapons attack. The measure brought Trump and Macron even closer, with the leaders speaking to each other on the phone regularly in the weeks since.
‘In the past, sometimes France argued that it was time to take action against chemical weapons, and it was — France was not followed by its allies, including the United States at the time. It is not what happened this time. We decided together what was possible and what was not,’ Macron said at a joint news conference.
As for the Iran nuclear deal, Macon said, ‘I do not know what President Trump will decide…and it’s his responsibility.’
The French president said he would work with regional powers, including Turkey and the Syria-aligned Russia, for now, to forge a new agreement.
‘I believe we can both combine our common views and our differences, because we are not in a vacuum. I always said we should not tear apart the JCPOA and have nothing else,’ Macron said.
On Tuesday night, it was back to pleasantries between the two leaders as they gave a toast at the Trump administration’s first state dinner.
Macron, speaking in French, joked how the British burned down the White House, and then how President James Monroe decorated it with French furniture.
‘Many comment on our friendship but I think it helps us work toward our goals,’ Macron said during the toast.
A HISTORY OF DIGNITARIES ADDRESSING CONGRESS
Wednesday’s speech by French President Emmanuel Macron will mark the 120th time in U.S. history a joint meeting of the House and Senate has been called so that a foreign leader could address the American Congress.
That number dates back to December 1874, when Congress hosted King Kalakaua of Hawaii.
The French general and war hero the Marquis de Lafayette was the first foreign dignitary to address the U.S. House of Representatives, giving a speech on December 10, 1824.
More recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed Congress in June 2016. In September 2015, Pope Francis addressed Congress. House Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation the next day as the Pope’s visit symbolized the pinnacle of his Congressional career.
The last French leader to address Congress was President Nicolas Sarkozy on November 7, 2007, when President George W. Bush was in office.
Very few members of Congress were invited to the state dinner, with the Trump administration deciding against inviting any Democrats.
Typically politicians from the opposing party are invited to state dinners to forge better relations across-the-aisle.
The only elected Democrat on hand was Louisiana’s Gov. John Bel Edwards.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who invited Macron to speak before Congress, did attend the fete, along with Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican, and both senators from Louisiana, Sens. John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who’s expected to take Ryan’s place, also attended the glitzy dinner with the French leader.
In an interview that aired Sunday on Fox, President Macron said he intends to focus his remarks today to Congress on the importance of multilateralism.
Previewing his address on Tuesday on the White House’s South Lawn, Macron said: ‘It is together that we can resist the rise of aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world. It is together that we will build a new strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy in the face of ill winds.
‘For our culture, our identity has always been to work for all countries while aspiring to universality.’