Trump Putin split file
White House declines to refute Russian claims
01:50 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Trump received a warm welcome at his first stop, Warsaw, and then protests in Hamburg

Trump was more comfortable around world leaders at the summit than at European meetings earlier this year

The White House failed to get its version of the Putin meeting out before the Russians

Hamburg, Germany CNN  — 

In Warsaw, crowds waved American flags. In Germany, cartoonish effigies of the American President were hoisted instead.

For President Donald Trump, a second foreign trip was again a study in contrasts, the quick-shifting reaction to his controversial tenure encapsulating the divided world he and other leaders at the G20 summit confront.

Stopping for 15 hours in Warsaw, Trump found a confidence boost among the cheering crowds and like-minded government leaders. Delivering his first major outdoor address on foreign soil, he achieved a presidential moment, even as his message on America’s view toward Europe diverged sharply with past US leaders.

In Hamburg, where the hum of police helicopters provided background music to violent protests, skeptical leaders and sleep-deprived diplomats, his touchdown was a hard landing. The yawning gap between the reception in each city was plain.

Not by accident, the first stop on Trump’s two foreign trips have placed the President in a comfort zone, replete with adulation from leaders and new deals to announce between foreign governments and the United States.

Just as he did in Saudi Arabia this spring, Trump basked in the admiration mustered by Poland’s right-wing government. Standing outside the security barricades, thousands of average Poles – farmers, students, teachers and shopkeepers – filled the streets and greeted Trump with cheers.

Many were bused into the capital from farflung provinces by civic committees, an attempt to deliver an enthusiastic welcome for Trump.

The tactic worked in the opposite way here in Germany. Filling the streets were protesters from across Europe, a contingent of tens of thousands who came here to disrupt the annual G20 summit by torching cars, smashing windows and clashing with fully equipped riot police.

Protests are a fact of life at almost all gatherings of major world leaders, and major summits like the G20 are often held outside of major cities where protesters can be kept far at bay. Here, the city center was gripped with sometimes-violent marchers, a level of unrest rarely seen in Germany.

Shuttling through Hamburg in his armored limousine, Trump caught no glimpses of the angry masses. But the demonstrators were successful in making themselves known; first lady Melania Trump was forced to cancel her participation in a program for leaders’ spouses when the Hamburg police declared it unsafe for her to leave her building.

Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman said the turn of events was “unfortunate” since the first lady was looking forward to participating in the events. But the security situation did allow her to avoid a potentially awkward tour of a climate science center, which the husband of German Chancellor Angela Merkel had selected to show visiting spouses.

More comfortable in his role as global agitator