Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images
President Donald Trump's freewheeling and unprepared approach to phone calls with world leaders tended to turn ugly if the recipient was a woman, according to a new CNN report.
Trump was "near-sadistic" when speaking with leaders like former UK Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling them "stupid" and "a fool," according to Carl Bernstein, a longtime Washington Post reporter of Watergate fame who reported the story for CNN.
One source called Trump's calls with May "humiliating and bullying," while Merkel reportedly took Trump's antics "like water off a duck's back."
"He'd get agitated about something with Theresa May, then he'd get nasty with her on the phone call," one source told CNN. "It's the same interaction in every setting — coronavirus or Brexit — with just no filter applied."
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President Donald Trump was chummy with male world leaders in phone calls but turned "near-sadistic" when he was speaking with women in the same positions, according to a new report from Carl Bernstein for CNN.
Bernstein, who rose to fame at The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal, cited White House and intelligence-community sources familiar with highly classified calls.
Trump's "most vicious attacks, said the sources, were aimed at women heads of state," he wrote.
The president's overall conduct on these calls was described to Bernstein as a "danger to the national security of the United States" because of how unprepared Trump was.
"The calls caused former top Trump deputies — including national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, as well as intelligence officials — to conclude that the President was often 'delusional,' as two sources put it, in his dealings with foreign leaders," Bernstein wrote.
He added: "More than a dozen officials either listened to the President's phone calls in real time or were provided detailed summaries and rough-text recording printouts of the calls soon after their completion, CNN's sources said. The sources were interviewed by CNN repeatedly over a four-month period extending into June."
Trump got belligerent with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former UK Prime Minister Theresa May, the report said.
"Some of the things he said to Angela Merkel are just unbelievable: he called her 'stupid,' and accused her of being in the pocket of the Russians," one source told Bernstein. "He's toughest [in the phone calls] with those he looks at as weaklings and weakest with the ones he ought to be tough with."
Merkel took Trump's vitriol "like water off a duck's back," Bernstein quoted a source as saying, and would simply respond "with recitations of fact."
May, on the other hand, was taken aback by Trump's conduct, the report said.
The then-prime minister would get "flustered and nervous" when Trump attacked her, according to a source Bernstein cited.
"He clearly intimidated her and meant to," a person familiar with the calls told CNN.
The behavior extended to in-person interactions too, a German official told CNN.
When Merkel visited the White House in 2018, Trump "displayed 'very questionable behavior' that 'was quite aggressive ... [T]he Chancellor indeed stayed calm, and that's what she does on the phone,'" the official said, according to the report.
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