Donald Trump was all fingers and thumbs during a carefully choreographed photo op today at a summit of world leaders, failing to grasp whose hands he was supposed to be holding and breaking a lineup meant to showcase unity.
Interestingly, both Duterte and Trump present themselves in the public as tough men who drive hard bargains with their opposition, but are famously thin-skinned. Speaking with reporters last week, Duterte promised to tell Trump to "lay off" if he raised human rights concerns.
"Our country would be better off without Trump's visit because aside from pushing and supporting for more military actions in the Philippines, like more airstrikes especially in Mindanao, he is also engaged in rabid saber-rattling in the Korean Peninsula that would have awful effects in the Philippines if war breaks out", Zarate said in a statement.
The summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries in Vietnam put on show the contrasting vision of the "America First" policy with the traditional consensus favouring multinational deals that China now seeks to champion.
Then, looking around, he turned to the leaders that flanked him - Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to his right, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to his left - and simply extended his arms outward, only to find that wasn't quite right either.
USA intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian Federation meddled in the 2016 election to help the Republican Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
"As to whether I believe it, I'm with our agencies", Trump said.
On Saturday, Trump lashed out at former heads of the USA intelligence agencies, claiming there are plenty of reasons to be suspicious of their findings and dismissing them as "political hacks".
President Trump and President Duterte at the Asean Conference in November 2017When did Duterte meet Donald Trump?
Multiple congressional committees are also investigating.
John Brennan, the former CIA director, responded Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump was dismissing the former officials - himself included - as "political hacks" in an attempt to "delegitimize" the intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation interfered in the election.
Former CIA director John Brennan, appearing Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union", said Trump was deriding them in an attempt to "delegitimize" the intelligence community's assessment. I think not. Okay?
"We've made some very big steps with regard to trade - far bigger than anything you know", Trump told reporters, pointing to business deals forged between USA and foreign companies. "We are in a bilateral meeting".