President Trump has been known to go off script in the past, in the process at times deviating from what the White House’s company line is. It has caused rifts between himself and his Communications Department in the past, not to mention the people who are the target for his wrath. Now we have another example of that on display as Trump continues criticizing Qatar for their alleged bankrolling of terrorist groups. Friday saw Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempting to coerce a peaceful end to the Gulf crisis that has seen a blockade on Qatar, hoping for a “calm and thoughtful dialogue” according to the New York Times. This was almost immediately undermined by the president during a speech in The White House Rose Garden alongside the president of Romania:
Barely an hour later, Mr. Trump’s comments were anything but that. He accused Qatar of being a “funder of terror at a very high level” and demanded that the tiny, energy-rich nation cut off that money flow to rejoin the circle of responsible nations.
“We had a decision to make,” Mr. Trump declared at a Rose Garden news conference with the president of Romania, Klaus Iohannis. “Do we take the easy road or do we take a hard but necessary action?” he said. “We have to stop the funding of terrorism.”
A senior administration official reported to The Times that Trump and Tillerson were indeed on the same page, showing both statements side by side, but a State Department official tells a different story, noting that “The president is focused on ending terrorism; the secretary is focused on diplomacy” between the Gulf Cooperation Council of Sunni Gulf states.
For their part, Qatar quickly came out and claimed the sanctions against them were without merit. The oil-rich country has called the accusations against them “unjustified,” while claiming the allegations of their involvement with terrorist groups “have no basis in fact.” On Friday, Qatari Ambassador Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani unleashed a tweetstorm that took Qatar’s defense a step further and addressed Trump on his own turf, asking the United States to look into their actions for themselves and with their own sources:
Trump fired off his own tweets about the Qatar-Gulf Crisis on Tuesday, basically taking credit for the entire thing. Perhaps this will help to break through and put the president on a path to work this whole thing out. Possibly without the need for the reply feature.