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Impeachment Inquiries

November 15, 2019

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In Britain, Trump combines ceremony with controversy

In Portsmouth, England, President Trump joined other world leaders to mark the anniversary of D-Day. Before he left London, Trump also sat down with British journalist Piers Morgan for a wide-ranging interview that touched on his failure to serve in the Vietnam War, why he banned transgender soldiers from the military and whether he wants to negotiate with Iran. Yamiche Alcindor reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump spent his third day in a row abroad, beginning the 75th anniversary events memorializing the D-Day invasion of 1944.

    Mr. Trump also had much to say about many topics in a British television interview.

    Our Yamiche Alcindor has been traveling with the president and following it all.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    A D-Day commemoration with President Trump and other world leaders. Today in Portsmouth, England, they gathered to mark the legendary invasion and the beginning of the liberation of Europe.

    It was here that Allied forces boarded landing crafts to storm the beaches of Normandy and fight the Nazis. The president along with members the British royal family spent time greeting D-Day veterans. Mr. Trump had this to say of Queen Elizabeth:

  • President Donald Trump:

    Great woman. Great, great woman.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    He then flew briefly to Ireland to meet with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. The president said he was optimistic that the U.K. could work out one of its biggest Brexit challenges. The question is whether Varadkar's Republic of Ireland can work out a border deal with Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. Neither country wants to reinstate a hard border.

  • President Donald Trump:

    The big thing is going to be your border. And, hopefully, that's going to work out. I think it will work out.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Before he left London, Mr. Trump sat down with British journalist Piers Morgan. Morgan questioned the president about whether he wished he had served in the Vietnam War. The president received five deferments from the draft. One was for having bone spurs. The other four were for education.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I thought it was a terrible war. I thought it was very far away. Nobody ever — you know, you're talking about Vietnam, and, at the time, nobody ever heard of the country. This wasn't like, I'm fighting against Nazi Germany. I'm fighting — we're fighting against Hitler.

  • Piers Morgan:

    Would you liked to have served, generally, perhaps in another…

  • President Donald Trump:

    Well, I would have been honored. But I think I make up for it right now.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Another topic, transgender Americans. Morgan pressed him on why he has banned transgender people from serving in the military. Mr. Trump gave reasons not based in fact.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Because they take massive amounts of drugs. They have to. And, also — and you're not allowed to take drugs. You know, in the military, you're not allowed to take any drugs. You take an aspirin, you would actually have to break rules and regulations in order to have that.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Contrary to Mr. Trump's assertion, in the military, prescription drug use is not prohibited.

    The president also talked about Iran and said he would be willing to sit down with President Hassan Rouhani. No American president has met with the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

  • Piers Morgan:

    Are you prepared, if it comes to it, to jaw-jaw with President Rouhani of Iran?

  • President Donald Trump:

    You're talking about talk?

  • Piers Morgan:

    Yes.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Yes. Of course, I would much rather talk.

  • Piers Morgan:

    You would sit down with him and have a chat?

  • President Donald Trump:

    Sure. Sure.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The Iranians have refused to talk for now. The United States is the only nation to leave the Iran nuclear deal. Iran recently threatened to resume high-level uranium enrichment if the U.S. does not lift sanctions it imposed when it left the deal.

    President Trump plans to spend tonight in Ireland in one of his golf resorts, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche, hi.

    So, that interview he did, the president did with the British journalist Piers Morgan, were there other claims the president made that are being questioned?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president said a number of things that were simply not based in fact. He wouldn't say that climate change is a clear and present danger.

    But that is, of course, the conclusion of scientists all over the country and the world, as well as scientists working for the Trump administration. He also said that he talked to Prince Charles about this for some time, about 90 minutes, and that Prince Charles stressed to him that he was concerned about future generations and climate change. But the president just simply was not convinced.

    He also said that Winston Churchill, the former British prime minister, didn't have to deal with the threat of nuclear weapons. That's simply not true. There were Nazis thinking of trying to build a nuclear weapon during the time of Winston Churchill. So that just simply, again, was something else that was just not based in fact.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, we know the president has met with the British officials this week. He's, of course, been with the royal family.

    Is it thought that all this could have some bearing on the Brexit negotiations?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The president's visit here likely will not have a big impact on the U.K.'s Brexit negotiations.

    Sources I have been talking to tell me that they don't really like the idea of an American president meddling in U.K. domestic politics, as well as meddling in European politics. It's also important to note that the president was a very clear supporter of Brexit before the U.K. decided to vote to leave the E.U.

    So there are a lot of people who aren't really surprised that he's saying things are going to go well and that he's very optimistic about the future post-Brexit. So what we see is really the president just coming here to say that the U.K. and the U.S. are very close allies and will remain that way.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche Alcindor, following the president's visit from London, thanks, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks so much.

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