Donald Trump says he expects to make two visits to Britain this year, one of them a state visit in the fall that will probably involve a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II.
A less formal working visit would come sometime before that, Trump told British television presenter Piers Morgan. But a third appearance, for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle in May, is not in the cards: Trump has not received an invitation from the prince or from Markle, who has outspokenly criticized Trump as a divisive figure with misogynistic attitudes.
Morgan sat down with Trump in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum last week for the U.S. leader’s first sit-down interview with a foreign news outlet. The half-hour meeting was aired on British commercial broadcaster ITV on Sunday night.
During the interview, Trump insisted he had “tremendous respect for women” and said female employment in the U.S. was higher than it has ever been. He reiterated his support of seemingly unfettered gun ownership, refused to say whether he believed in climate change, and admitted he knew nothing about a racist British group whose anti-Muslim videos he retweeted without looking into their source.
Trump told Morgan that he expected to come to Britain for a full state visit in October, taking up an invitation from Prime Minister Theresa May. Opposition politicians have lined up to criticize granting such an honor to a leader they consider exclusionary, dishonest, and unworthy, and anti-Trump groups have promised to greet his visit with massive street protests.
But Trump insisted that Britain was brimming with love for him, while at the same time saying he doesn’t care what those who don’t like him think. “I think I’m very popular in your country,” Trump said. “I believe that – I really do. I get so much fan mail from people in your country.”
At Morgan’s urging, Trump said he “would certainly apologize” to Britons who were offended by his retweet of three videos last November that were put out by a far-right, anti-Muslim organization called Britain First. The videos purported to show acts of violence and terror by Muslims.
“Certainly I wasn’t endorsing anybody. I knew nothing about them,” Trump said of Britain First. “If you’re telling me that they’re horrible people, horrible racist people, I would certainly apologize if you’d like me to do that.”
Trump parried a question as to whether he regretted statements he has made that others have seen as crassly sexist at best and actively misogynistic at worst. “I have tremendous respect for women,” he said, but added: “I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist. I think that would be maybe going a little bit too far. I’m for women, I’m for men, I’m for everyone.”
Trump also declined to say whether he believed in climate change. He justified his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord by saying it was “a terrible deal for the United States.”
And he pledged his support for an interpretation of the Second Amendment that allows free access to guns. Morgan, who described himself as a friend of Trump’s and who at times was complimentary to the point of fawning during the interview, has spoken out vocally in favor of gun control. Morgan asked why nothing had been to done to restrict access to guns even after the mass shooting by a lone gunman at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas that left dozens dead.
“If he didn’t have a gun, he would’ve had a bomb; he would’ve had something else,” Trump said of the shooter, adding that, had people in the crowd had guns, they could have returned fire. “If they had bullets going in the opposite direction, you would’ve saved a lot of lives.” He did not mention that the shooter was firing on concert-goers from the upper floor of a high-rise hotel.