Nick Timothy, who served as joint chief of staff to May from 2016 to 2017, shared his anecdotes of the US president on the “What Were They Thinking?” podcast, which interviews former UK political figures.
“Meeting Donald Trump was fairly extraordinary,” Timothy said, when prompted to reflect on unusual occurrences during his career. He said that during a meeting with May in the Oval Office, Trump went on a tirade against Michael Flynn, who was serving as his national security adviser at the time.
“Somebody just mentioned in passing that Vladimir Putin had asked for a call with him, and right in front us, he absolutely shouted down Mike Flynn. Like, really shouted,” Timothy said. “This was at a formal dinner, with butlers and fancy crockery. ... [Trump] was properly shouting at him down the table, because ‘if Putin wants a call with me, you just put him through.’”
Trump’s fervour for the Russian president was further confirmed last week in old documents released by the Senate Intelligence Committee, showing the president fawning over the Russian leader and claiming he was a “big fan.”
Timothy said the entire affair was “not especially reassuring about the state of [Trump’s] mind, or the stability of decision-making in the White House.”
In another story related to that same visit, Timothy said Trump and then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon had pontificated on geopolitical issues in front of May in a “pretty strange” manner.
Bannon in particular sounded like someone who had “read a couple of books” rather than a full-fledged expert, Timothy said, recalling how the former Trump strategist had referred to Japanese people as “warrior people” when debating whether or not Japan should have its own military as a deterrent against China. (Japan has not formally had an offensive military since World War II, and instead calls its peacekeeping unit a self-defence force.)
On August 20, Bannon was arrested for allegedly embezzling funds from an online “We Build The Wall” fundraiser for personal expenses.