The president’s visit to France has been no less contentious despite his absence at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron, in what was seen as a direct rebuke of Trump, denounced nationalism.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By putting our own interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values,” Macron said.
Trump referred to himself as a “nationalist” last month during a rally in which he denigrated Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), who challenged Republican incumbent Ted Cruz’s Senate seat.
“You know, they have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist,” Trump said. “And I say, ‘Really? We’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist.”
President Trump: "I'm a nationalist." pic.twitter.com/3lxCrtSkrN
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 23, 2018
The term “nationalist” has become associated with the alt-right movement, which predominantly supports the president’s agenda and has regularly challenged for espousing white supremacist ideology.
Trump has defended those comments, saying it was meant as a contrast to “globalists” who place international interests before those of the United States.
The president further came under fire after sharing a rather warm greeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The two men, whom U.S. intelligence agencies believe together conspired to subvert the 2016 presidential election, arrived separately from the other heads of state who took part in the commemorations, although Trump was already in attendance when Putin arrived and was caught beaming at the sight of the Russian president.
Putin murders journalists & opponents, recently used a nerve agent to assassinate a dissident on British soil, annexed Crimea, facilitates war crimes, and attacked American democracy. This is how Trump reacted when he saw him (notice the difference with Macron/Merkel) pic.twitter.com/VzCSGcuWVR
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) November 11, 2018
Trump and Putin were going to have a one-on-one meeting in Paris, but those plans were scuttled amid Macron’s concerns that the meeting would overshadow the Armistice Day commemorations. Putin later told Russian state media that he did find time to talk to Trump in Paris.