Donald Trump had no State Department briefing materials in front of him during his first calls with world leaders as president-elect, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The materials are standard practice for the president or president-elect in order to avoid any diplomatic hiccups in their dealings with foreign leaders.
The report painted Trump’s improvised calls as largely the result of his unorganized transition team, which has seen two big shakeups in the last seven days — first on Friday, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was replaced by Vice-President elect Mike Pence to lead the team, and again on Tuesday, when Pence ordered that all lobbyists on the team step down.
The Times claimed that “prominent American allies” such as the UK and Israel have been “scrambling to figure out how and when to contact Mr. Trump,” a report Trump denied in a series of tweets on Wednesday morning.
“I have received and taken calls from many foreign leaders despite what the failing New York Times said,” Trump tweeted.
“Russia, UK, China, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and more. I am always available to them. The New York Times is just upset that they looked like fools in their coverage of me.”
Trump did not respond to the Times’ report that those calls broke with tradition by being largely improvised, however.
The apparently off-the-cuff calls were not the only unorthodox aspect of Trump’s postelection transition. On Wednesday, Trump left Trump Tower for the first time in days without his press pool to have dinner at the 21 Club a few blocks away, according to The Associated Press.
“The movement was a surprise given that Trump’s campaign had already called a ‘lid’ — a signal to journalists that he would not be venturing out for the rest of the day,” the AP reported. “The practice is meant to ensure that journalists are on hand to witness, on behalf of the public, the activities of the president or president-elect, rather than relying on secondhand accounts.”
The Huffington Post, meanwhile, reported that six days after the election, the Obama administration still had not received a signed memorandum from Pence that would formally begin the transition of power.
“That document still hadn’t arrived by 4:30 p.m. [on Tuesday], and only later in the evening did a White House official confirm it had been received. The official noted that the language signed by Pence was identical to a memo signed by Christie, making the holdup all the more peculiar.”
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