Trump for Le Pen

President Donald Trump listens as Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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I mentioned yesterday that in the closely watched and highly consequential French election today we should remember that the President of the United States is supporting the hyper-nationalist, far-right anti-semitic candidate, Marine Le Pen. The US is almost always officially neutral in the elections of major European allies. But we’ve spent a decent amount of time working against the rise of neo-fascist and far right parties. Here we’ve weighing in in favor. I saw a few people say, well … that was in the campaign but a lot’s changed since the campaign.

Not really. He made what even the AP recognized as a de facto endorsement only two days ago.

From the AP …

In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump said that while he is not explicitly endorsing Le Pen, the attack played to her strengths.

“She’s the strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France,” Trump said in the Oval Office interview. “Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election.”

U.S. presidents typically avoid weighing in on specific candidates running in overseas election. But Trump suggested his opinion was no different from an average observer, saying, “Everybody is making predictions on who is going to win. I’m no different than you.”

Quite a lot of US foreign policy for decades has gone into preventing people like Le Pen from coming to power in European states. Usually it’s countries like Austria where it’s an issue. Now it’s France. And now a US President is openly supporting her.

Trump came to power supporting rightist parties across Europe and with very specific plans to pry apart the EU with those leaders. Now that the generals’ trio has not so much changed Trump’s mind but up a shell of somewhat more traditional US foreign policy around Trump, much of what the US is doing in Europe has changed. But Trump isn’t really different. It’s more a shell around him. He’s still the same, as these comments about Le Pen make clear.

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