Donald Trump is bringing back the Churchill bust to the White House after it was returned to the British in 2009.
There are several versions of the story about the Winston Churchill bust. It was a gift from the British embassy that was prominently displayed in the White House until Barack Obama took office. Then it was returned to the British Embassy.
When Charles Krauthammer pointed out that the Churchill bust had been returned, he was made the target of a White House fake news story. As Breitbart reported in 2012,
When White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer put up a “factcheck” on the official White House blog last week he was pulling nopunches. He pushed back on the “patently false” claim that “PresidentObama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office andsent it back to the British Embassy.” Pfeiffer singled out CharlesKrauthammer for repeating this “rumor” in his weekly column.
Only one big problem with Pfeiffer’s fact check. It was false. As noted here,there were photos of the Churchill bust in the British embassy after its return from the Oval Office in 2009. At some point, Friday, Pfeiffer caught wind of the error and published an update to his original fact check. The update explained, in language that even the NY Times found confusing, that there were actually two busts of Churchill. One had indeed been returned to the British embassy, the other was on display in the White House residence.
One thing Pfeiffer’s Friday afternoon update did not do was apologize to Charles Krauthammer for attacking him by name without having the facts. On Sunday, Krauthammer demanded a correction from the White House in a column published by the Washington Post. Krauthammer also asked for an apology but expressed skepticism that one would be forthcoming saying the Nationals would win the World Series first.
To his credit, Dan Pfeiffer did apologize by email and, at Charles’ request, posted the letter on the White House blog.
Here is Barack Obama explaining himself.
I actually think Obama may be telling the truth. But whatever his intention was doesn’t matter. What we know is that Donald Trump, as soon as he takes office, wants to leave no doubt about the close relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States.
According to The Sun, in a story posted yesterday,
Donald Trump has asked Britain to send Winston Churchill’s bust back to the White House so he can return it to the Oval Office, The Sun can reveal.
The request was put to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson by the President Elect’s senior advisers during talks in New York three days ago.
Last night, Downing Street confirmed that Theresa May has agreed to a loan of the famous sculpture again.
The gesture marks a diplomatic coup for the PM in her bid to win influence over the unpredictable new US leader.
A bitter row over the bust’s location has raged for seven years since outgoing President Barack Obama replaced the wartime leader’s image with one of Martin Luther King in 2009.
Of course, May didn’t “bid to win” anything. The Trump team requested the Churchill bust on their own initiative. They see Britain as a friend and ally. Anyone who has been following Trump and his entourage could have predicted that.
But it’s not just a return to the status quo. The Britain that originally loaned Churchill’s bust to the White House was a member of the EU. In the video above, you see Obama standing next to David Cameron.
Everything’s different now. Brexit was passed, Cameron is gone, and so is Barack Obama.
This is a new friendship in a new political environment.