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Trump Attends 75th Anniversary D-Day Event: Live Updates

World leaders and hundreds of World War II veterans observed the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy on Wednesday, with a moving ceremony that wove together firsthand accounts of the day with rousing music and reflections.

The commemoration at the British naval base in Portsmouth, England, a crucial site for the operation, began with a video montage of aging soldiers who recounted harrowing tales of the invasion on June 6, 1944.

Ten aging veterans of the battle slowly shuffled across the stage, some walking with the aid of canes, as the crowd rose in applause.

President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, sat alongside Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles for the ceremony, as a litany of actors, politicians and members of the military took to the stage. Prime Minister Theresa May, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and other European leaders were also in attendance, as were more than 300 veterans of the military operation and their families.

Portsmouth played an important part in Operation Overlord, the campaign to retake Europe from the Axis powers in World War II: Allied forces boarded ships bound for France at the port; Americans lodged in a barracks in the city; and wounded soldiers were treated at one of the city’s hospitals.

The ceremony began with a formal procession of honor guards from the Royal Navy, Army, Air Force and Welsh Guards, marching through the crowd in tight lines.

After the troops took the stage and presented arms, Queen Elizabeth made her formal entry and stood next Mr. Trump as a chorus then delivered a rousing rendition of “God Save the Queen.”

After a narrated segment about the course of World War II leading up to Operation Overlord, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada told the story, in French and English, of his grandfather James Sinclair, who served in the war.

Later, when the focus pivoted to the American entry into the war, President Trump took the stage and read an excerpt from a prayer that President Franklin D. Roosevelt read to the nation on the radio the eve of the D-Day operation.

When the president left, to polite applause, dancers took the stage and swung into a high-energy performance to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” the wartime hit by The Andrews Sisters.

For the D-Day anniversary itself, on Thursday, Mr. Trump plans to go to northern France. Last year, during a trip to France to commemorate the centennial of the end of World War I, Mr. Trump drew outrage for his decision not to visit a cemetery for American soldiers because of rain.

President Trump paused his working day on Tuesday to chat with his friend Piers Morgan, the winner of the first season of “Celebrity Apprentice” and the co-host of Good Morning Britain.

In the sit-down in the Churchill War Rooms, which aired Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump said there was “a chance” of military action against Iran, cast his ban on transgender people serving in the military as an economic decision and admitted using the word “nasty” to refer to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

Before each of his two trips to Britain since taking office, President Trump has set the stage and stirred controversy in interviews with the British media, and last week he did just that in interviews with The Sunday Times of London and The Sun.

He told the tabloid The Sun that he had been unaware that the Duchess of Sussex, also known as Meghan Markle, had made “nasty” comments about him during the 2016 presidential campaign. The duchess, an American and a former actress, is married to Prince Harry.

During the interview with Mr. Morgan, the president sought to clarify his remarks, saying: “I wasn’t referring to she’s nasty. I said she was nasty about me.”

“And that’s O.K. for her to be nasty. It’s not good for me to be nasty to her,” he insisted. “And I wasn’t.”

The president claimed he had a warm exchange with Prince Harry, who also spent time talking to his daughter Ivanka, though some British tabloids reported that the prince had actively avoided the president.

“I went up — he couldn’t have been nicer,” Mr. Trump said.

When Mr. Morgan asked Mr. Trump whether he was considering military action against Iran, after months of threats and escalating tensions, Mr. Trump, who almost never rules out anything, said: “There is always a chance. Do I want to? No I’d rather not. But there’s always a chance.”

“I’d much rather talk,” Mr. Trump said.

President Trump has retreated from comments suggesting that a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain would include access for American companies to Britain’s health care system, after the remarks immediately prompted outrage.

During a joint news conference on Tuesday afternoon with Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr. Trump touted the possibility of a “phenomenal” trade deal, but he reiterated that everything would be on the table, including the country’s National Health Service, more commonly referred to by its initials, N.H.S.

That raised the possibility that Britain’s health system could be used as a bargaining chip, possibly weakening it by creating a stronger market for private services and giving American pharmaceutical companies more power.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, denounced Conservative party members in a tweet for entertaining the idea of negotiating over the health service.

“They all need to understand: our NHS is not for sale,” he wrote. Mr. Corbyn’s sentiment was echoed by others in his party and across the political spectrum.

The N.H.S. is a government-financed system seen by many as a foundational institution of the modern state. Just hours after making his remarks, Mr. Trump seemed to walk them back in an interview with Piers Morgan on the ITV program “Good Morning Britain.”

During the interview, which aired on Wednesday morning, he appeared to make a complete turnaround when asked by Mr. Morgan if he would consider it a “deal breaker” if the N.H.S. were not on the table.

“I don’t see it being on the table,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s something that I would not consider part of trade. That’s not trade.”

President Trump began the third and final day of his state visit by taking aim with two caustic Twitter posts at an unlikely pair of high-profile critics: the performer Bette Midler (a “washed up psycho”) and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer (a “creep”).

The first post was about Mr. Schumer, a Democrat from New York, and came around 1 a.m. in London, where Mr. Trump and the first lady have been welcomed with almost every courtesy imaginable by the royal family.

Mr. Trump appeared angry at Mr. Schumer’s suggestion that he might not follow through on a threat to impose a 5 percent tariff on goods imported from Mexico.

Roughly 30 minutes later, Mr. Trump took on Ms. Midler, who had tweeted a debunked quote in which Mr. Trump purportedly called Republican voters “the dumbest” in the country. She deleted the post and apologized.

But Mr. Trump, who has fought with Ms. Midler for years, did not appear to accept the apology. He turned to a familiar tactic he uses with female critics, questioning her sanity.

This was President Trump’s first full state visit to Britain — a rare honor for a head of state — made over two years after he was first invited.

Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family welcomed Mr. Trump to Buckingham Palace with an honor guard and artillery salute, followed by lunch, afternoon tea, a tour of Westminster Abbey and a lavish state banquet, at which the president and the queen toasted each other.

The president’s four adult children arrived for the festivities, after more than a month of planning by White House officials to accommodate them and Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Before he even landed, though, Mr. Trump stoked an old feud with London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, whom he called a “stone cold loser,” and who later called him “the poster boy for the far-right movement around the world.” And on Tuesday protesters, having prepared a statue and a blimp in Mr. Trump’s image, gathered in London’s streets to demonstrate against him, though seemingly in fewer numbers than the tens of thousands who protested his visit last year.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump traded ceremony for diplomacy, meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss a possible trade agreement, the Chinese technology firm Huawei (which the United States has called a security threat) and other issues. He also spoke with Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary and leading candidate to succeed Mrs. May as prime minister, and Nigel Farage, the right-wing, pro-Brexit politician whose upstart party did well in the recent European Parliament elections.

Mr. Trump has been a critic of Britain’s approach to Brexit, suggesting that it should be more aggressive in the negotiations. He took a more reserved approach on Tuesday, saying that he did not want to take a strong position. But with opponents of a withdrawal pushing for a second referendum, and the government having failed to come up with a plan that could gain Parliament’s approval, he said of Brexit, “I think it will happen.”

Maggie Haberman, Mark Landler, Alan Yuhas and Megan Specia contributed reporting.

Source: NYT > World

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