Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, caused shock and sniggers around the world when he called Barack Obama the “son of a whore”. But the Duterte comment that will have really hurt the White House came a few days later. Announcing that he was ending joint naval patrols with the US in the South China Sea, the Philippines’ president stated: “China is now in power and they have military superiority in the region.”
Covering Donald Trump and the 2016 race feels a bit like this:
The rabbit hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Donald had not a moment to think about stopping himself before he found himself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.
Donald Trump ended another turbulent week sarcastically. Yesterday we covered the Republican’s out-there statement that Barack Obama was the “founder of Isis”, an unambiguous claim that he repeated multiple times while turning down invitations to retract or revise it. But today he said we shouldn’t have taken it so seriously after all. “They don’t get sarcasm?” he tweeted of CNN (and the rest of us) who covered it.
Aside from Trump’s ability to dominate a day’s news cycle, the episode also highlighted a couple of other things. One is what Newt Gingrich, a steadfast Trump ally, described as the imprecision of his language. “He sometimes uses three words when he needs 10,” Gingrich said, exasperatedly. The other is that Mr Trump is ramping up the time he spends bashing the media. Reporters like myself have been getting emails from the campaign highlighting a daily “media bias offender”. Read more
It’s possible to become inured to Donald Trump’s outlandish statements. Trump perhaps knows that the bar for attention is gradually rising, but he has made a huge splash with his latest effort – a claim that Barack Obama is “the founder of Isis”.
Yes, that’s as barefaced as it came. Trump did not mean to say Obama was an “enabler” of Isis, or that he created the messy environment from which Isis emerged. He meant to say what he said: Obama founded Isis. Read more
It is a question often raised by Donald Trump’s seemingly glib or off-the-cuff opinions on minefield subjects that other politicians would avoid: “What does that mean?”
Today it was Barack Obama who was asking it, as he was quizzed at a press conference on Trump’s suggestion that this year’s election could be rigged. “That’s ridiculous. It doesn’t make any sense,” the president said, before mentioning kids who lose playground games and say they were cheated. Read more
It was a carefully worded criticism – just 160 words long – that Barack Obama delivered to Poland’s government on Friday, as the US president used the NATO summit in Warsaw to rebuke the country’s right-wing ruling party for moves that have caused a constitutional crisis and seen it charged with endangering democracy.
But the subtle critique, which drew surprise among Polish journalists and anger among some ruling politicians, was months in the making, involved dozens of advisers and hours of discussions, which culminated in a late-night meeting on the eve of the speech and a critical intervention from former secretary of state Madeleine Albright. Read more
A day that began with a rare show of political unity over the killing of five Dallas police officers had by the late afternoon taken on a sharper political edge, although sometimes in surprising ways. Read more
Sign up for our daily US politics newsletter here.
As most Americans were getting ready to grill hamburgers and hot dogs for the July 4th holiday, Hillary Clinton was on Saturday being grilled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation over her installation of a private email server in her New York home and use of a personal account when she was secretary of state. The interview signalled that the FBI was nearing the end of a year-long investigation that hung over Clinton’s second bid for the White house. Read more
Happy almost Fourth of July from all of us at White House Countdown. It’s been another mad week on the campaign trail. From potential VP talk of Elizabeth Warren and Chris Christie; to a scripted Trump in Pennsylvania.
We end the week with more news from the Trump campaign, which has made two new hires: pollster Kellyanne Conway and Karen Giorno who ran the campaign’s Florida operations during the state’s primary. Read more
As speculation continues to build about who Hillary Clinton will pick as her running mate, at last we have at least one name who could fill that role for Donald Trump. And that name is Chris Christie.
Five months after he exited the Republican primary and four months after he made his first – and most surreal – joint appearance with his party’s presumptive nominee, Christie is now reported to be among those being considered for the vice-presidential spot. Read more
Another day, another study of contrasts between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
In the wake of yesterday’s devastating terrorist attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, the two presidential candidates offered very different takes on the attack and the best means to respond. Read more
On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee announced that its trove of opposition research on Donald Trump had been hacked by alleged Russian government hackers.
Today, Gawker has published a 200-page document which appears to be the DNC’s Trump playbook. Read more
As Elizabeth Warren, the progressive Democratic senator, dropped in for a chat with Hillary Clinton at the latter’s colonial brick residence on Whitehaven Street in Washington DC on Friday, it was easy to forget how rapidly the political mood has shifted in the capital this week.
Last weekend, Clinton was contemplating the possibility of an embarrassing defeat by Bernie Sanders in California, one of the Democrats’ stronghold states, and the socialist senator from Vermont was growling menacingly about a “contested convention” in Philadelphia this summer. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
Last week, as President Obama entertained the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner and Britain indulged in a bizarre debate about whether Hitler was a Zionist, more than 200 people were killed in a brutal bombardment of Aleppo. The breakdown of Syria’s fragile ceasefire promises yet more suffering in a five-year long war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and created millions of refugees.
By Gideon Rachman
When supporters of the Vote Leave campaign sketch out a future for Britain outside the EU, they often point to the Anglosphere of English-speaking nations — bequeathed by Britain’s imperial past. So Barack Obama’s intervention in Britain’s EU referendum last week was a potentially devastating moment for the Brexit campaign. Here was the president of the US — the most powerful member of the Anglosphere — arguing forcefully for Britain to stay inside the EU.
By Gideon Rachman
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, two pictures sent a powerful message about how international politics are changing. One was of Barack Obama hunched in discussion in a hotel lobby with Vladimir Putin. The frosty body language of their previous meeting at the UN had given way to something more businesslike.
By Gideon Rachman
“American and Chinese presidents do not really know how to talk to each other. They are like computers running on different operating systems.” That was the verdict once offered to me by a US official, who has watched many US-China summits from close quarters.
• Syria’s young girls are facing assault, early marriage and being forced into prostitution as the refugee crisis spirals. The IRC, selected by the FT for its 2014 seasonal appeal, is seeking to protect and empower them
• A motley crew of ex businessmen, academics and pro-Russia activists has seized control in Ukraine’s rebel republics Read more
By Gideon Rachman
The people who prepare President Barack Obama’s national security briefing must be wondering what to put at the top of the pile. Should it be the Russian assault on Ukraine, or the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as Isis) in Iraq and Syria? And what items should go just below that?
A Yazidi family that fled Sinjar in Iraq takes shelter in the Kurdish city of Dohuk ( SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)
Barack Obama’s decision to move back into the maelstrom of Iraq, from which he withdrew in 2011 after solemnly pledging to extricate US forces once and for all, would clearly not have been taken lightly.
Little under a year ago, after all, the president baulked at the last fence on Syria, declining to punish the Assad regime for nerve-gassing its own people – crossing a red line he had chosen to single out as inviolable. That was the wrong decision, and it is worth a moment to remember why. Read more