Oh how we wish this one were captured on video, but alas The Wall Street Journal could only vividly describe the epic moment when President Trump shouted across a crowded room, “Where’s my favorite dictator”? —while awaiting a meeting with Egypt’s president.
It apparently happened at last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France but is only now being revealed by the paper:
“Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi,” the WSJ reported Friday.
“Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in a loud voice: ‘Where’s my favorite dictator?’ Several people who were in the room at the time said they heard the question,” the newspaper reported. Onlookers described “a stunned silence” that followed.
People in the room said they were unclear if President Sisi actually heard it. The Journal commented, “Even if lighthearted, Mr. Trump’s quip drew attention to an uncomfortable facet of the U.S.-Egypt relationship.”
We might add that though uncomfortable the moment might have been for US-Egypt relations, it’s one of those classic Trump moments where the president’s wild and off the cuff manner actually comically cuts straight to the reality better than anything else (Turkey’s Erdogan might even be a little jealous to find himself on the outs as Washington’s “former” favorite dictator).
The WSJ report summarized of some of Trump’s favorite dictator’s favorite pastimes: “Mr. Sisi has drawn criticism for his authoritarian rule since taking power following a 2013 coup. Under Mr. Sisi, Egyptian authorities have been accused of detaining thousands of political opponents, of torturing and killing prisoners and of stymying political opposition, according to reports by the United Nations, U.S. State Department and nongovernmental groups.”
According to the report John Bolton, Steve Mnuchin, and Larry Kudlow were in attendance for the meeting — it would be interesting to know how many actually laughed.
“Within minutes of the quip, Mr. Sisi met Mr. Trump and reporters were allowed in. Mr. Trump, among other comments, celebrated his relationship with Mr. Sisi, noting that the two leaders had begun talking with each other soon after Mr. Trump won the presidential election in 2016,” the paper noted.
Likely Sisi is not going anywhere for a long time, given he’s been given a mandate to rule for another solid decade as months ago Egyptian parliament approved constitutional changes to allow the sitting president to stay in power until 2030.
A week ago the US State Department moved to waive human rights rules in order to vote through sending military aid to Egypt, totaling $1.3 billion.
With a whopping figure like that to prop up the Egyptian military ‘deep state’ headed by the Gaddafi-esque general, we’re sure Sisi will let Trump say whatever the hell he wants.