Trump takes golf break on UK visit as thousands protest
US president continues tour of Britain ahead of Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin
US president Donald Trump plays a round of golf on the Trump Turnberry resort in South Ayrshire, where he and first lady Melania Trump are spending the weekend. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
US president Donald Trump played golf on Saturday at his course on the western coast of Scotland ahead of a summit with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin that could be overshadowed by accusations that Russians meddled in the 2016 US election.
In an uproarious trip to Europe, Mr Trump harangued members of the Nato military alliance, scolded Germany for its dependence on Russian energy and shocked Britain by publicly criticising prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.
Mr Trump apologised to May as he visited the UK for the furore over his withering public critique, blaming “fake news” and promising instead a bilateral trade agreement with Britain after it leaves the European Union in March.
While Mr Trump took tea with Queen Elizabeth, a US federal grand jury charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with stealing data from the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Mr Trump has repeatedly said the investigation into suspected Russian interference in the 2016 US election – which he casts as a “rigged witch hunt” – makes it hard for him to do substantive deals with Moscow.
Mr Trump responded to the latest charges by questioning why former president Barack Obama had not acted on claims of Russian meddling if the FBI had informed the then president of them ahead of the 2016 election.
He also asked where the Democratic National Committee server was now. “Why didn’t the FBI take possession of it? Deep State?” Trump asked on Twitter.
After meeting the queen at Windsor Castle, Mr Trump headed to Scotland, where his mother, Mary Anne, was born.
Scottish secretary David Mundell greeted the president at Prestwick on Friday night and said: “[Mr Trump] said he had been in Scotland many times and was very pleased to be here as president.
“He obviously feels very strongly about his mother’s Scottish heritage and he’s looking forward to playing golf at Turnberry and is hopeful that the weather will be conducive to that.”
Mr Trump, wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with “USA”, was seen by two Reuters reporters playing golf on his Turnberry Trump course.
Describing golf as “my primary form of exercise,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: “The weather is beautiful, and this place is incredible! Tomorrow I go to Helsinki for a Monday meeting with Vladimir Putin.”
While at the Turnberry course on Friday evening, an activist for the Greenpeace environmental campaign group swooped on a powered parachute within a few hundred yards of the president as he stood outside the golf course’s hotel.
Mr Trump moved calmly inside as the parachute approached, surrounded by his security detail. British police said they were trying to trace the pilot.
After tens of thousands of people marched peacefully against Mr Trump in central London, more protests took place on Saturday. A blimp depicting Trump as an orange, snarling baby was raised in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, where thousands protested.
At Turnberry, Mr Trump waved at protesters who were chanting “No Trump” just a few hundred yards away on a beach beside the course. He appeared to say something to them. They booed.
“I’m here as a quiet protester to say: I really don’t want this man in our country,” said Graham Creelman (70), who joined a small protest on the beach.
“The government needs to take a stand against appalling attitudes and appalling behaviour, and we’re not doing it.”
British trade secretary Liam Fox said anti-Trump protesters were an embarrassment to themselves as they had shown bad manners to the leader of the free world.
About 100 supporters of Mr Trump, some wearing “Make Britain Great Again” hats, expressed their admiration for the president opposite the US embassy in London.– Reuters/Press Association