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News Brief: Trump Attacks NATO Allies, London Prepares, Supreme Court And Abortion

Jul 12, 2018
Originally published on July 12, 2018 9:13 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

President Trump is meeting with allies again this morning. This is the second day of the NATO summit in Brussels.

NOEL KING, HOST:

And you wouldn't know it from the criticism that Trump aimed at NATO allies yesterday, but some important decisions have actually already emerged from this summit. And the U.S. is on board with them. Not everyone in Washington shares Trump's apparent disdain for NATO.

GREENE: And let's turn to NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe, who has been covering the president's trip and was covering the NATO summit in Brussels. Good morning, Ayesha.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: All right. So President Trump's Twitter rants aside, it sounds like there was some serious substantive agreement among the NATO allies, right? What came out of this whole summit?

RASCOE: Yes. The leaders agreed to this declaration that basically outlined these commitments for the alliance going forward. Most of this had been worked out ahead of time. And they - the group also agreed to call out Russia on its - basically saying that the group had messed up his security - saying that the group had messed - saying that Russia was wrong on security when it came to annexing Crimea. And also, the - and also, the group...

GREENE: Ayesha, I'm having a little trouble. I'm not sure if you can hear us well - if we're having trouble with the connection. You hearing us?

RASCOE: It's out.

GREENE: All right. We're going to turn - we're going to try to get the connection back with Ayesha. President Trump, of course, at the NATO summit. He's going to be moving from there to London for another big visit. And NPR's Frank Langfitt is in London getting ready for that visit. Hello there, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hey, David.

GREENE: So it sounds like one of the big themes of this visit - even though President Trump is going to be sitting down for tea time with the queen, that is not the kind of welcome he is going to be getting from protesters, who are going to be filling the streets. So tell us a little bit about what the president is going to be doing - his itinerary and whether or not he'll be coming close to these protests.

LANGFITT: Yeah, sure. Great question. The first protest is actually planned for late this afternoon outside Winfield House. That's the U.S. ambassador's residence right up around Regent's Park. And Trump is going to come there for a meet and greet with the embassy staff. And actually, it's the only place he's going to stop in central London.

The rest of the time, he's going to be actually outside the city. He has a black-tie dinner tonight at Blenheim Palace - that's the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Tomorrow, he'll be meeting with Theresa May at Chequers. That's the Prime Minister's estate. And there are going to be bilateral discussions out at Chequers - trade and security talk. It's going to be light on sort of concrete results, more about projecting unity.

And this, of course, is coming off, you know, what's been going on in NATO and some of the angry tweets. And I think what the British would like would be send an image and sort of a message that they're united with the United States. They're paying their fair share, working very hard on the military. And they're looking to not get any sort of critical tweets from the president.

And then, of course, as you were mentioning, late afternoon tomorrow he's off to Windsor Castle for tea with the queen. And then on to a resort - one of his resorts in Scotland to prepare for Helsinki and President Putin, and maybe some golfing.

GREENE: So really not a lot of time in London...

LANGFITT: No, no (laughter).

GREENE: I mean, is that planned, maybe, to avoid the protesters? And how...

LANGFITT: Yeah. I mean, here's what the...

GREENE: ...Is the president going to be getting around?

LANGFITT: David, the embassy says, oh, you know, everything's far away. He's going to helicopter to most of these places. But it's clear that the White House doesn't want the president spending much time in London at all because he just becomes a target for demonstrators. And there are a lot of people who really don't like him here. So he's going to spend most of his time in the air.

I ran into some protesters yesterday. They were wearing surgical masks that said, Trump stinks. And they think that Trump is afraid of them. The first person you're going to hear from is Minnie Vaughan. She's 31, works in advertising. And the next will be Alice Konstam. She's a TV producer.

MINNIE VAUGHAN: I think the fact that he's not taking any meetings in London is quite cowardly.

ALICE KONSTAM: I think he knows he has a lot of people in London that dislike him. I mean, I think the ratio, compared to America, is a lot larger.

GREENE: So we don't know how President Trump feels about these protesters at all. I'm sure he would say he's not afraid at all. But these protesters want him to be, it sounds like.

LANGFITT: They do. And I think that they're going to be out in very large numbers, probably on Friday, to send a message to him.

GREENE: I have been looking at a photo of this - what looks like some sort of inflatable balloon.

LANGFITT: Hard to miss, yes.

GREENE: It is a baby...

LANGFITT: Yup.

GREENE: ...Trump. Tell me more about that. And tell me - did that require approval? Did the city actually approve that thing?

LANGFITT: It did. And this is very interesting because it's satire, but there's also a political element here - a domestic political element. This is about a 25 - 20-foot tall blimp of a crying baby with a shock of Trumpian hair. And it's really - it looks just like President Trump. He's in a diaper, holding a cellphone. Now the organizers say they're doing this because they want to show the U.S. president as he's perceived by many here and around the world - as a crybaby. They're going to launch it from Parliament Square Garden Friday morning along the Thames.

And mayor - the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, approved it saying, hey, this is free speech. I'm not going to censor anything. And he's received quite a bit of criticism for that - you know, humiliating the American president, basically. But if you look closely at the relationship between Khan and Trump, there's a bit of payback here. Trump and Khan have been in a Twitter war beginning from at least last year when Trump seemed to deliberately quote Mayor Khan out of context when there was the attack on London Bridge, which you and I covered together - we talked about.

GREENE: Yeah.

LANGFITT: And basically saying the mayor was saying he wasn't alarmed by all these deaths. Khan is a Muslim, son of a Pakistani bus driver, so people here also perceive this as racist and Islamophobic. It's just one of the groups the President tends to offend in London. And that's why we'll see some protests today, and then, perhaps, tens of thousands tomorrow.

GREENE: Oh, bigger protest on Friday, you think.

LANGFITT: Yeah. There's going to be - it's going to be hours and hours of protests, marching from here where we are in - around Oxford Circus all the way down to Parliament. Yeah. It's going to be quite an extravaganza. There's going to be bus. Yeah. It's going to be a big deal.

GREENE: All right. NPR's Frank Langfitt in London telling us about the preparations for the president's visit. He's heading to Britain today. Frank, thanks.

LANGFITT: Happy to do it, David.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: All right. Here in the United States, with the balance of the Supreme Court in question, abortion rights advocates are beginning to prepare for a future that they are hoping never to see.

KING: Right. That is a future without the protections of Roe v. Wade. Now if President Trump's nominee to the court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, that doesn't necessarily mean that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. But we have new reporting this morning about how some abortion rights groups are already preparing for that to happen.

GREENE: And this reporting comes from NPR's Sarah McCammon, who's with us. Hi there, Sarah.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: So just remind us what is at stake here with this nomination when it comes to the issue of abortion.

MCCAMMON: So, of course, remember, retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy was the - has been the swing vote and has often voted to uphold abortion rights. So if Kavanaugh's confirmed, the court will shift to the right almost certainly and very likely on this issue. It's widely expected that Roe v. Wade, which is, of course, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide - that it would be substantially weakened, if not overturned altogether.

And that would give the say on abortion rights back to the states, with much more latitude to restrict abortion than they have right now. That has reproductive rights advocates worried. I talked to Leslie McGorman. She's the Deputy Policy Director at NARAL Pro-Choice America.

LESLIE MCGORMAN: This is a new time. This is certainly all hands on deck. This is certainly, like, red alert - whatever the phrasing for emergency you may come up with. Like, we are in that state right now.

MCCAMMON: So NARAL and other groups are working on a couple of fronts. They're mobilizing to try, first of all, to block Kavanaugh's nomination by asking grassroots supporters to contact their senators. And they're also, David, looking ahead to state legislatures to try to prepare for the possibility that abortion rights, eventually, will be up to the states.

GREENE: Well, what does that effort look like? What do you - what are they doing if they're preparing for a possibility that may or may not happen at the state level?

MCCAMMON: Right. So more than 20 states right now have laws on the books that could ban abortion if Roe goes away. Activists want to get rid of those laws. Some of them are old pre-Roe laws. They also want to take proactive measures to protect abortion rights and improve access, either through state law or in state constitutions, even. NARAL says they're putting together some model legislation that state lawmakers could look at.

I also talked to the Center for Reproductive Rights. They have been working on making it easier for health care providers, like physician assistants, to provide abortions under state law. They say that would help with an existing shortage of abortion providers in many places and could become especially important if there's an influx of women traveling from more restrictive states to more liberal states to get abortions.

GREENE: Well, so what about abortion rights opponents? I mean, are they also gearing up for these kinds of fights if we're going to see some of the scene shifting to the state level?

MCCAMMON: Yeah. I mean, both sides have been having this fight for a long time, and it would just intensify. Mallory Quigley is with the anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List.

MALLORY QUIGLEY: I think that that is where it's going to be very important, where I think both sides are likely to be extra engaged because this is really going to set the tone for the future of our nation.

MCCAMMON: She said she'd like to see a 20-week ban, and has also praised some state laws or proposals banning abortion as early as six to eight weeks. So those are some of the kinds of things we could see under a more conservative court.

GREENE: OK. NPR's Sarah McCammon speaking to us this morning. Sarah, thanks as always. We appreciate it.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUSHY'S "THERE'S A LIGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.