• In his speech in Warsaw, Mr. Trump said that in an age of terrorism, “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” and he explicitly expressed support for NATO.
• At a news conference with President Andrzej Duda of Poland earlier in the day, Mr. Trump said that Russia was most likely behind the hacking in the 2016 presidential election, he repeated a warning to North Korea after its missile test, and he once again denounced what he called “fake news.”
• Mr. Trump’s trip to Europe is expected to culminate with a high–stakes meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that could have significant repercussions globally and back home. Even the American leader’s aides do not know precisely what he will say when the two meet face to face.
In speech, Trump calls for unity against terrorism.
Mr. Trump delivered a message on Thursday of determination in the face of terrorism to the Polish people in a speech in Krasinski Square, where a monument commemorates the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis, calling on the West to defend itself in a good-versus-evil fight against extremism.
“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he said, employing the same life-or-death language as his inauguration speech, which promised a war against the “American carnage” of urban crime. “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
In the strongest terms that he has used to date, Mr. Trump also urged Russia to stop its “destabilizing activities” and its support for “hostile regimes” including Iran and Syria, delivering a broadside on the eve of his meeting with Mr. Putin, and he said that Poland had agreed to buy the Patriot missile defense system from the United States.
Mr. Trump made the remarks during a visit calculated in part to signal his backing for a NATO ally that is facing Russian aggression on its eastern flank. And he made an explicit pledge to honor the collective defense principle that undergirds the trans-Atlantic alliance, something he pointedly refused to do in May when he spoke at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels.
While Mr. Trump made mention of the terrible toll wreaked by the Nazis on Poland and its once thriving Jewish population, many of his comments were targeted at the onetime invaders from the East. The president noted that Joseph Stalin had halted his troops outside the city during the uprising, allowing German forces to exterminate or capture Polish partisans fighting in the ruins of the city.
“The Soviet armed forces stopped and waited,” he reminded his Polish audience to applause and chants of “Donald Trump!” and “Hail to the heroes!” The Soviets, he added, “tried to destroy this nation forever by shattering its will to survive.” — Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Glenn Thrush
Was Russia solely responsible for campaign meddling? ‘Nobody really knows.’
Mr. Trump suggested on Thursday that he still was not convinced that Russia was solely responsible for interference in the 2016 election, breaking with American intelligence agencies who have agreed that the effort emanated from Moscow and was directed by Mr. Putin.
“I think it was Russia, and it could have been other people in other countries,” Mr. Trump said when asked for a yes-or-no answer to the question about Russian meddling.
“Nobody really knows,” he added, arguing that American intelligence agencies had made serious mistakes in the past, including an assessment before the United States-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction. “Nobody really knows for sure.” — Julie Hirschfeld Davis
Trump criticizes CNN, denounces ‘fake news’ and defends a divisive tweet.
President Trump tag-teamed with Poland’s president to denounce the media — hitting CNN and “fake news” while defending what he suggested was a lighthearted tweet of a video showing him body-slamming a figure whose head was replaced by the CNN logo.
What made Mr. Trump’s sermon against the mainstream media different this time was the fact Mr. Duda’s center-right party, Law and Justice, proposed restricting media access to Parliament last year. The government backed down after street protests.
“They have been fake news for a long time, and they have been covering me” in a dishonest way, Mr. Trump said of CNN when asked about the tweet at the news conference with Mr. Duda at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. “We don’t want fake news,” he added, as Mr. Duda nodded vigorously in agreement.
Mr. Duda, responding to an American reporter’s question about his own actions toward the news media, blamed Polish journalists for intentionally distorting his record and for failing to include his positions in articles critical of his government. — Glenn Thrush
U.S. weighs a ‘pretty severe’ response to North Korea.
Mr. Trump said on Thursday that he was weighing “some pretty severe things” to respond to the nuclear threat from North Korea, and he called on all nations to confront what he called the “global threat” from Pyongyang.
“We’ll see what happens — I don’t like to talk about what we have planned — but I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about,” Mr. Trump said at the news conference with Mr. Duda. “They are behaving in a very, very serious manner, and something will have to be done about it.”
North Korea conducted a successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that appeared capable of hitting Alaska. Mr. Trump said he and Mr. Duda had spoken about confronting terrorism as well as “the threat from North Korea, and that’s what it is — it is a threat, and we will confront it very strongly.”
He said the United States and nations around the world must “demonstrate that there are consequences for their very, very bad behavior.” — Julie Hirschfeld Davis
With a few exceptions, a warm welcome for Trump in Poland.
Mr. Trump emerged from a Marriott in Warsaw on Thursday a little after 9:15 a.m., his sprawling motorcade of flag-flapping black sedans, police escorts and shuttle buses riding up the Vistula River to a back entrance to the presidential palace. He was greeted by Mr. Duda, and disappeared into closed-door meetings after a session with photographers, emerging only for the news conference.
Unlike in Hamburg, no major protests were expected in Warsaw, where Poland’s right-wing government was determined to provide Mr. Trump, and itself, with photographs of an ecstatic welcome, but there were signs of dissent.
Wednesday night, around the time Air Force One arrived in Warsaw, environmental protesters projected a message on the side of the Palace of Culture and Science, reading “No Trump, Yes Paris,” a dig at America’s plan to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
And Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi, and other Jewish leaders issued a statement Thursday morning that was critical of the White House’s decision not to visit a monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. Every American president and vice president who has visited Warsaw since the fall of communism in 1989 has visited the monument. — Rick Lyman
Putin indicates he’s willing to work with Merkel.
Mr. Putin weighed in on the disputes looming over the G-20 summit meeting, publishing a signed piece in Germany’s leading business daily, Handelsblatt, on Thursday that expressed support for the German hosts on free trade and preserving the Paris climate accord.
In the same piece, however, he also appealed to the West to lift sanctions “which have no future” or place in the digital global economy of the 21st century.
The Russian leader is scheduled to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France for talks that German officials said would focus on the conflict in Ukraine. Mr. Putin did not mention the seizure of Crimea or the fighting in eastern Ukraine in his piece. “We share the priorities of the German presidency, and are prepared to work for their realization,” he said. — Alison Smale
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