Barack Obama

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

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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

US-German relations strained over new spying allegations
Germany has summoned the US envoy following allegations that an agent working for Germany’s intelligence agency was spying for the US. Gideon Rachman is joined by James Blitz, former security correspondent, and Jeevan Vasagar, Berlin correspondent, to discuss what this means for already troubled relations between the Obama and Merkel governments, and how the two nations can resolve their differences in order to tackle the numerous shared geopolitical challenges they face.

  • The US president’s thicker skin and conviction that he can transact little business with Congress means he is using his executive authority to shape policy – and his legacy.
  • The next king of Spain will need to work hard to restore faith in the Bourbons, says the FT’s Tobias Buck.
  • Not one of the ECB’s new measures addresses the problem of low inflation directly, says Wolfgang Münchau.
  • This week’s Ofsted report that is expected to warn of hardline Islamist teaching creeping into a handful of British schools will revive the debate on whether a much broader push is needed to combat extremism in the UK.
  • Even before the bribery allegations concerning Qatar’s World Cup bid emerged last Sunday, the young emir of the gas-rich state had reason to believe the world was turning against his country.

Football interlude:

  • Young prodigy Cassiano de Jesus has captured the footballing world of Brazil where the sport is one of the few equalisers in one of the planet’s most unequal countries.
  • Four years after the last World Cup, residents of South Africa are still waiting to see its legacy.
  • Lionel Messi “rejected the advances of Spain’s national team to choose Argentina, the land of his birth, only to find that he could never really come home.”

 Read more