Predictably CNN and others along with US rivals and enemies – and even some allies – are seizing upon President Trump’s leaving the global G20 summit early to slam his “brand of nationalist isolationist hubris” while saying “he will not be missed” on the world stage.
“President Donald Trump participated in his final Group of 20 summit on Saturday by tweeting throughout the opening session and skipping a special side-conference focused on the coronavirus pandemic,” CNN reported.
President Trump skipped the G20 summit’s “Pandemic Preparedness” event to play golf – I think it is not only negligence of duty, but serious misconduct. History will not forgive the anti-pandemic performance of the Trump administration. pic.twitter.com/1gAnRJXt4w
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) November 22, 2020
Instead, he reportedly went to play golf at his Sterling, Virginia property – skipping the special session on global efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic – leaving the nearly two-dozen world leaders who had connected via video link wondering where he’d gone.
What was not widely reported (aside from a headline by Bloomberg) – and is especially ironic given the Global Times trolling above – is the fact that China’s Xi also was among a number of world leaders who left the virtual G-20 talk early.
The session had featured remarks from French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and others, which Trump skipped out on.
However, we can imagine (in Trump’s thinking) a lame-duck president might feel he has better things to do with his weekend than sit through a virtual G20 meeting. He had reportedly stepped away a couple times while the virtual summit was ongoing, but wasn’t the only one.
He blasted these reports as fake news in a Sunday morning tweet, however:
Just arrived at Virtual G20. Was here yesterday also (early), but some of the Fake News Media failed to report it accurately – as usual. My speech is available (they said I didn’t make a speech).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2020
A couple of media outlets said they obtained audio of Trump’s weekend speech:
‘It’s been a great honor to work with you, and I look forward to working with you again for a long time,’ Trump reportedly said.
He also boasted about Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s push for a coronavirus vaccine, that only funded one of two potentially successful candidates.
Still, Trump has been taking credit for Pfizer’s vaccine despite the company not taking government money.
‘His was the anomalous speech,’ one source told The Guardian. ‘Everyone else talked about global matters of life and death.’
Politico reported Trump’s main message was: Vaccinate America first.
Interestingly, he also included an eyebrow raising statement expressing that he wanted to work with the world leaders gathered “for a long time”. Though ironically he’s never appeared very enthusiastic about global summits to begin with, even when they were held in person.
Representing the meeting’s host country, Saudi Minister of Investment, Khalid al-Falih, took an indirect swipe at Trump after he departed early: “When the world needed leadership [to combat Covid-19] there was none,” Falih said. He noted that the G20 had a special new urgency because some countries had “turned inwards towards nationalism.”
Meanwhile, we would love to hear what choice words Trump might have for the Saudis in return.