The president is about to go on another foreign trip, this time to Poland and then the G-20 summit in Hamburg:
But even his top aides do not know precisely what Mr. Trump will decide to say or do when he meets President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia face-to-face this week on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit gathering in Hamburg, Germany. And that is what most worries his advisers and officials across his administration as he embarks Wednesday on his second foreign trip, first to Warsaw and then to Hamburg.
Trump’s first foreign trip was mostly a failure, and the second trip is unlikely to be more successful. To some extent, the second trip will be haunted by Trump’s mistakes from the first because the damage done to many important relationships in Europe has not yet been repaired. The president is expected to receive a warm welcome in Warsaw, and he will presumably flatter his hosts in return, but he won’t find most of the leaders at the G-20 summit to be similarly accommodating. Trump seems to prefer dealing with foreign leaders one-on-one, and doesn’t do very well in multilateral settings, so the summit will probably not be very productive for the U.S. It is more likely than not that Trump will pick one or more fights with the attendees in Hamburg over trade, and we should expect him to harangue the other leaders about this and other issues. The U.S. could quickly find itself isolated at the summit.
We will see if Trump opens up any new rifts with allies or widens existing ones, but I bet he won’t be mending any fences with alienated allies. I suspect the meeting with Putin will be mostly uneventful, but since Trump is winging it and has no set agenda for the meeting there is no telling what blunder the president might make. The summit would also be a good opportunity to reduce tensions with the Chinese government in the wake of North Korea’s missile test, but there doesn’t seem to be any interest inside the administration in doing that. Even if Trump’s trip goes off without any major screw-ups, the president isn’t going to have much to show for his time in Europe.