From Israel to Brexit to France: Trump dips into allies’ politics

  He’s trashed the British Prime Minister. He’s cheered protesters in France. And now he’s handed Israel’s embattled leader a win days before a re-elect

ion. When it comes to other countries’ domestic politics, President Donald Trump hasn’t hesitated to put his thumb on the scale.

  When he first met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office weeks after his inau

guration, Trump heard out the Israeli prime minister’s appeal to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

  But Trump didn’t immediately deliver. Instead, he waited until less than three weeks before the most consequential election of Netanyahu’s polit

ical career to announce “it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

  Combined with the warm embrace Trump will offer Netany

ahu in Washington next week and the White House’s silence on the timing of the annou

ncement, experts quickly identified Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as a brazen attempt to boost Netanyahu’s re-el

ection chances, giving him a foreign policy achievement to tout in the final stretch of the campaign.

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And while it was perhaps the most blatant attempt by the

  ministration to wade into a foreign contest, it was not the only time the President or his tea

m has weighed in on the domestic politics of other countries. From undercutting British Prime Minis

ter Theresa May during a visit to the United Kingdom to calling attention to protests against French President Emm

anuel Macron, Trump has repeatedly sought to influence the internal affairs of the US’s closest allies — in full public view.

  ”It’s not without precedent that United States leaders have said things that affect politics in other countries, but it is without prece

dent for them to do it as brazenly as Trump has done,” said Joseph Nye, the former dean of Harvard Uni

versity’s Kennedy School of Government. “His style and the degree to which he intervenes are both unprecedented.”

  American administrations have long sought to quietly sway the domestic politics of other countries, whether throu

gh covert influence campaigns or military support. But rarely has a US president so eagerly voiced his opinions or

taken steps to influence another country’s internal affairs, particularly among close US allies.

  Instead — even when an administration’s preferred outcome was widely known or assumed — the White Hou

se maintained an officially neutral stance. A country’s internal affairs were off-limits, at least as a matter of stated position.

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I would have done it much differently. I actually told

  Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me,” Trump told the tabloid. “The deal she is striking is a much different deal than the one people voted on.”

  Trump apologized in private to May, one of the rare times he‘s admitted wrong. And tho

ugh he’s expressed a desire to remain diplomatically impartial — “I think we will stay right in our lane,” he sa

id last week when questioned about Brexit — he has nevertheless bemoaned May’s handling of the issue over and over.

  ”I’m surprised at how badly it’s all gone from the standpoint of a negotiation,” he said in the Oval Office last week, mome

nts after suggesting he wouldn’t offer an opinion on the issue. “I gave the prime minister my ideas on how to n

egotiate it. And I think you would’ve been successful. She didn’t listen to that, and that’s fine.”

  A few weeks before, Trump spoke briefly with one of the UK’s most visible pro-Brexit campaig

ners, Nigel Farage, on the sidelines of a conservative conference outside Washington. And he’s ma

intained close ties to the hardline conservatives who have bemoaned May’s handling of the matter.

  Trump wasn’t alone in his criticism. Two of his top confidants — son Donald Trump Jr. and national security adviser John

Bolton — both offered critical views this week of May and her plan to try and delay Britain’s exit from Europe.

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The people of Britain have voted. When is the political class

  going to give effect to that vote?” Bolton said in an interview with the British broadcaster Sky.

  Trump Jr. was more forceful in an opinion article published in the Telegraph, comparing the Brexit referen

dum to his father’s election and asserting both were subject to interference by a class of political elites.

  ”With the deadline fast approaching, it appears that democracy in the UK is all but dead,” wrote Trump Jr., who hasn’t weighed in previous

ly on foreign matters and isn’t a known expert in British politics. “Why is this important for us Americans? Because Brexit is an example of

how the establishment elites try to subvert the will of the people when they’re given the chance.”

  The White House declined to say whether Trump Jr.’s op-ed reflected the views o

f the administration, or whether he consulted with the White House about his message.

  On Brexit at least, Trump was not completely breaking from presidential norm. His predecessor President Barack Oba

ma traveled to London in the months leading up to referendum and encouraged voters against a decision to leav

e the EU, saying such a move would leave them at the “back of the queue” for a trade deal with the US.

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Xi made the remarks in a signed article published in the

Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday ahead of his European tour, with visits to Italy, Monaco and France.

Though far apart from each other, China and ancient Rome were linked by the old Silk Road over 2,000 years ago, Xi said in the ar

ticle, mentioning the cultural exchanges between the two countries in the distant past.

He said Beijing is willing to deepen cooperation with Rome in such areas as land and marine transportation, avia

tion, aerospace and cultural exchanges to build the Belt and Road in the new era.

“I’m willing to avail myself of this visit to work with Italian lea

ders on the blueprint of Sino-Italian relations and lead the ties into the new era,” Xi said.

He called on the two sides to tap more potential for partnership

in port logistics, shipping, energy, telecommunications and medicine, and encourage enterprises fr

om both countries to develop third-party cooperation to seek mutual benefit and win-win results.

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EU ready to grant Brexit delay if UK parliament backs dealpe

LONDON – The European Union could grant Britain’s request for a short Brexit delay if parliament vote

s next week in favour of a stalled departure deal, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Theresa May asked the European Union to allow Britain to delay its de

parture date by three months to June 30, and EU leaders are expected to discuss the matter at a summit on Thursday.

Tusk said it would be possible to grant Britain a short postponement if parlia

ment next week backs May’s divorce agreement, which it has already voted down twice.

Should that happen, Tusk said no extraordinary EU leaders’ summit would be need

ed next week before the current Brexit date of March 29. Otherwise, he might call another summit.

“I believe that a short extension will be possible, but it will be conditional on a positive v

ote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons,” Tusk told journalists.

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Some EU states, including Germany, had given a largel

positive response to May’s well-flagged request.

But French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said May would need to make her case before EU leaders in Brussels.

“Our position is to send the British a clear and simple message. As The

resa May has repeatedly said herself, there are only two options to get out of the EU: rati

fy the Withdrawal Agreement or exit without a deal,” Le Drian told the French parliament.

May’s initiative marked the latest twist in more than two years of

negotiations that have left British politics in chaos and her authority in tatters.

After the defeats in parliament opened up the possibility of Britain leaving the EU with

out a deal, May told parliament on Wednesday that she remained committed to leaving “in an orderly manner”.

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Short Brexit delay possible, but conditionalonald Tusk has said

short delay to Brexit is possible, but will be conditional on the House of Commons passing the Withdrawal Agreement.

“The question remains open as to the duration of such an extension,” Tusk, the President of the European Council, said.

Tusk said he spoke to Theresa May on the phone earlier this afternoon.

“May’s proposal of the 30 June, which has its merits, creates a series of questions of a leg

al and political nature,” he added. “Leaders will discuss this tomorrow.”1 hr agoDona

ld Tusk speaking nowThe President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, is giving a press conference in Brussels.

1 hr 9 min ago
MPs surprised by “downright reckless” strategy, Starmer says
Labour’s Sha

dow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has opened the emergency debate into the Brexit delay by quoting Ther

esa May’s de facto deputy David Lidington, who said last week that if May’s divorce deal was not passed by parl

iament, seeking “a short and, critically, one-off extension would be downright reckless.”

Starmer says those statements led MPs to believe that May would reques

t a long extension if she hadn’t passed her plan — but May has asked for a delay only until June 30.

He adds that the confusion is symptomatic of May’s Brexit strategy to date — to “put parliament as far away as possible from the process.”

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Extra pilot averted disaster on previous Boeing 737 Max 8 flight

An off-duty pilot in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet jumped in to help

crew disable a malfu

nctioning flight-control system as it experienced difficulties in October, according to Bloomberg.

The next day, with a different crew, the same plane crashed into the sea off Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

On doomed Lion Air Flight 610, pilots searched in a handbook f

or a way to stop the plane from nosediving, according to an exclusive Reuters report.

Reuters cites the information from three people with knowledge of the contents of the cockpit voice recorder that has never been made public.

Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) has refused to comment to CNN on the content of the voice r

ecorder as the investigation is still ongoing. Boeing also refused to comment to CNN on the matter Wednesday.

Indonesian authorities found the cockpit voice recorder in the Java Sea on January 14 and said it could take up to a year to publish a full report into the crash.

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The Ethiopian Minister of Transport said preliminary data

recovered from the black boxes of the crash in Ethiopia showed similarities to the Air Lion crash. But the investigation is ongoing.

Following the Ethiopian Airlines crash — the second crash of a 737 Max 8 plane in less than five months — countries and airlines around the world grounded their 737 Max planes.

Boeing insists that the 737 Max 8 is safe to fly.

“Safety is Boeing’s number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the Max,” Boeing said in a statement on March 12.

“We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made d

ecisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. It is also important to not

e that the Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the i

nformation currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”

With reporting from CNN’s Chris Isidore and Ralph Ellis.

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