News Brief: Trump Criticizes May, Family Reunifications, Nawaz Sharif Arrest
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
President Donald Trump gave the British tabloid newspaper The Sun an exclusive interview before touching down in Great Britain yesterday. And David, it was a doozy.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
It sure was. For one thing, Trump criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May and her handling of Brexit. The Sun newspaper said that Trump's remarks, quote, "will pour nitroglycerin on the already raging Tory Brexiteer revolt against the prime minister" - strong language there. Trump also saluted one of the Prime Minister's political rivals. He also slammed the mayor of London. Now, The Sun posted a recording of this interview, and here is what President Trump said about immigration.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame. I think it changed the fabric of Europe. And unless you act very quickly, it's never going to be what it was. And I don't mean that in a positive way.
MARTIN: OK. NPR's Frank Langfitt has been following all this from London and joins us now. Frank, how are Brits reacting to the president's comments?
FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Shock and outrage, I'd say. This is seen as very duplicitous. I talked to someone who was at the dinner last night at Blenheim Palace where Prime Minister May hosted the American president.
LANGFITT: And they said she spoke very eloquently about the special relationship between the two countries and trade. And they even seemed to have a nice chemistry. And then this story broke at about 11:00 as Trump was leaving. And people were reading their phones, heading to their cars. I was talking to a guy this morning on the way into work who just - a lot of people feel that Trump threw Prime Minister May under the bus.
MARTIN: Say more about that. I mean, how so?
LANGFITT: Well, in the sense that this really damages Theresa May at one of the weakest points of her premiership. It's actually the second anniversary today. And earlier this week, if you remember, she lost two top Cabinet secretaries over her approach to a softer kind of Brexit.
MARTIN: Right. So he's, like, hitting her when she's down.
LANGFITT: Oh, very much so. And keep in mind, you know, this is the closest ally to the United Kingdom. Tory rebels in her own party are threatening a no-confidence vote. And this just sort of gives them more ammunition. One good thing is that Trump is so unpopular here that using his criticism to further wound Theresa May is probably a double-edged sword.
MARTIN: So I mean, how are people in the U.K. perceiving all of this? I mean, do they think Donald Trump is doing this - undercutting Theresa May on purpose?
LANGFITT: I think that they do. I think what they're looking at is this trip that he's doing in Europe all as a piece. So - and there's a certain consistency here. If you remember, in Brussels, he attacked NATO members for not spending enough money on defense even though they've been actually increasing it before Trump was elected. Now he comes to another country where the United States has a very close relationship, and he undermines the leader here and damages her attempts to stay closer to the European Union in this sort of - what we call a softer Brexit approach. And which - of course, he doesn't like the European Union. He feels it's unfair to America on trade.
And people I've been talking to say there's a big beneficiary of the last several days, and that's the Russian president. Who - he wants - you know, Vladimir Putin wants to weaken NATO, and he also wants to weaken the EU. I was talking to a U.S. official today who said, everything he is doing couldn't have been more finely written by Putin. Now of course, President Trump's going to be meeting Putin later on in Helsinki. And people are going to watch to see how he treats Vladimir Putin.
MARTIN: Right. I've been seeing images of this Donald Trump blimp or balloon or something in the streets. I mean, we've heard a lot about these protests that have been gaining steam or were supposed to happen. Are they?
LANGFITT: They are. I mean, I'm going to go down and see the balloon very soon. And we're expecting tens of thousands of people on the streets today.
MARTIN: Tens of thousands - OK. NPR's Frank Langfitt for us this morning. Frank, thanks so much.
LANGFITT: You're very welcome, Rachel.
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MARTIN: All right, we've got an update now on the children who were separated from their families after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
GREENE: Yeah. So a federal judge in San Diego is going to decide today if the government is doing enough to reunite these families. The Trump administration said yesterday that all of the, quote, "eligible children" under age 5 had been reunited with their parents. But nearly half of this very young group, 46 kids, were deemed ineligible by the government for reunification right now. So why is that? And what is going to happen to them?
MARTIN: OK. Let's put those questions to John Sepulvado of member station KQED. He's been covering this issue from the beginning. Hey, John.
JOHN SEPULVADO, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.
MARTIN: All right. First off, why are these kids considered ineligible for reunification?
SEPULVADO: Well, they each have different reasons. The government says 46 of the kids are not eligible to be reunited with their parents because a dozen of those parents have already been deported. And they essentially can't be reunited because their children are in the United States, and they're in a different country. There's another nine who are in custody of the U.S. Marshal Service for a variety of crimes, ranging everywhere from - or everything from DUI to wanted for murder in Guatemala, one man is. And one adult's location was unknown.
So the big question is what to do with the deported parents because there's no dispute that these folks are their parents. And many of them told the story of officials essentially promising to reunite them with their children if they signed a paper. And they signed the paper, and it turned out that this was - they were essentially giving up whatever claim or agreeing to whatever charges were brought against them.
SEPULVADO: And they were deported without their children. So that's going to be a real mess to unify those kids.
MARTIN: So what's this federal judge going to be looking for in court today regarding these 46 really young kids?
SEPULVADO: Judge Dana Sabraw really wants to know exactly why reunifications have not happened in certain cases. And he might ask questions about, you know, whether crimes like that DUI I was talking about meet his definition. And the judge wants to make sure that all the people who the government say are not eligible to be reunified are reunified or, essentially, that there's proof that these people have been reunified. That's something that the ACLU wants. They've also said, hey, we need to know that the 50 families who actually are said by the government to be reunified have in fact been reunified. And the government is going to ask for more time to reunite these older kids. I mean, it took about a week extra for them to reunite 101 kids.
MARTIN: Wow. So the ACLU has been representing all of these children. What options are they mulling over at this point about how to move forward here?
SEPULVADO: Well, the big question is - how is the government going to respond to reuniting more than 2,900 kids? The ACLU wants to make sure that it's done in a much more competent way than it has so far. And so they're going to be really looking to pressure both the court and the government to ensure that there are safety steps so that a lot of the mistakes that happened with these young kids don't happen with these 2,900 kids.
John Sepulvado of member station KQED. Thanks so much for your reporting on this, John.
SEPULVADO: Thank you, Rachel.
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MARTIN: All right, there's going to be a strange political showdown in Pakistan today.
GREENE: Yeah, it's quite a showdown. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter are going to be flying back to Pakistan. They are expecting to be arrested right there on the tarmac when they arrive and taken off to jail. They're being arrested for their involvement in a corruption scandal surrounding the ownership of these upscale apartments in London. Now, thousands of people are expected to turn out at the airport to protest this arrest. And we should say, there is a political reason for all of this.
MARTIN: NPR's Diaa Hadid is in Lahore in Pakistan. This is the city where Sharif is expected to land.
Diaa, before we get to the protests, can you just explain why in the world Nawaz Sharif is voluntarily going back to Pakistan when he knows he's going to get arrested?
DIAA HADID, BYLINE: Right. Hi, there. So this is a big political drama. Sharif and his daughter Maryam, who's his political heir, are actually live-tweeting this. They're going to be landing in Pakistan to be arrested. But I think their calculation is that this is really going to boost their party's chances of winning the upcoming elections. They're trying to rally people around the idea that they're being persecuted and a vote for them isn't just a vote for the party, it's a vote for democracy.
MARTIN: So do their supporters buy that?
HADID: Certainly, Sharif's supporters buy that. I mean - and here's a bit of background. Sharif has run the most popular party in Pakistan, and it was the ruling party until just a few weeks ago. But for the past year, supporters of the party, liberals - and Sharif himself - have alleged that there's been a crackdown against them. And they accuse the military and the judiciary of trying to crack down against their party to really hurt their chances at this election.
So yes, I mean, this is really the narrative of the party's supporters, which is why we're expecting thousands of people to turn up today in Lahore to protest his arrest and to really give the military a show of force. We spoke to supporters who say they want the military to see that they're there and their vote can't be taken away.
MARTIN: You were able to actually talk to people who were protesting. Do we have some of that?
HADID: Yeah. So the protests haven't begun yet. But what we did is that we walked along parts of the route to see what people were thinking. And we spoke to one guy who's a merchant, and he said he's going to be there because it's a vote for democracy. He is angry at the military, but he wouldn't name them. And when we asked him why he wouldn't name them, this is what he said.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Foreign language spoken).
MARTIN: What's he saying, Diaa?
HADID: And so what he was telling us is like, it's wrong what's happening right now. But he's afraid that if he says the military's name out loud, he'll be taken away. But that's not stopping him from turning up today at the demonstration.
MARTIN: All right, NPR's Diaa Hadid reporting from Lahore, Pakistan, where former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is flying in. He's going to turn himself in and likely to be arrested there.
Hey, Diaa, thank you so much.
HADID: You're welcome.
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