Another tyrant BFF

Trump does love human rights violators.

President Trump said on Monday that he had a “great relationship” with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, making little mention of human rights at his first face-to-face meeting with an authoritarian leader accused of carrying out a campaign of extrajudicial killings in his nation’s war on drugs.

In a stark break from past practice by American presidents, who have pressed foreign leaders publicly and privately about allegations of human rights abuses, Mr. Trump instead pursued his own transactional style of diplomacy, dwelling mostly on areas of common ground during his meeting with Mr. Duterte. On the sideline of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit meeting, Mr. Trump focused on combating the Islamic State and illegal drugs as well as on trade issues, the White House said.

Making “deals.” It’s what he knows.

“Human rights briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

But Mr. Duterte’s spokesman denied that the subject of rights was ever broached, even as the Philippine president spoke about the “drug menace” in his country.

Mr. Trump “appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter and was merely nodding his head, indicating that he understood the domestic problem that we faced on drugs,” said Harry Roque, Mr. Duterte’s spokesman. “The issue of human rights did not arise; it was not brought up.”

Could it be that Sarah Sanders lied? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Now here’s a jaw-dropper:

The meeting also highlighted the potential conflicts of interest inherent in Mr. Trump’s position as both a president and a global real estate developer. Among those at the private session was Jose E. B. Antonio, a developer who is Mr. Trump’s partner on a $150-million, 57-story luxury tower in Manila’s financial district and also serves as Mr. Duterte’s trade envoy to the United States.

What? How can that be allowed?

As journalists shouted questions about whether Mr. Trump would press Mr. Duterte on human rights, the Philippine president quickly silenced them.

“Whoa, whoa — this is not the press statement,” Mr. Duterte said. “We are in a bilateral meeting.”

“You are the spies,” he told the reporters, as Philippine security personnel jostled some of them roughly. The remarks elicited a hearty laugh from Mr. Trump before the journalists were led out of the room.

Meanwhile police were attacking protesters in the streets of Manila.

White House officials have said that Mr. Trump has a “warm rapport” with Mr. Duterte, with whom he has spoken and exchanged letters since taking office, and that he wants to mend the American-Philippine alliance after strains during the Obama administration.

“President Trump specifically said he has always been a friend of the Duterte administration, unlike the previous administrations of the United States,” Mr. Roque said on Monday. “He stressed that he can be counted upon as a friend of the Duterte administration.”

Of course he did. He loves tyrants and rights-abusers. He loves the Saudis, he loves Erdoğan, he loves Putin – naturally he loves Duterte.

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