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Live Briefing: Thousands Protest in Hamburg as Trump Meets With Merkel Before G-20

Right Now: President Trump met with Chancellor Angela Merkel after he arrived in Hamburg, Germany, where thousands of protesters converged before a Group of 20 summit meeting with leaders of other major economies.

• About 12,000 protesters gathered Thursday night in Hamburg. There were reports that dozens of police officers suffered minor injuries as a small group of protesters attacked them with bottles, poles and iron bars in running clashes that lasted until midnight.

• Mr. Trump held a low-key private meeting with Ms. Merkel, who perhaps best symbolizes the deep skepticism shared by Western leaders toward Mr. Trump’s policies.

• Earlier on Thursday, during a speech in Warsaw, Mr. Trump said, “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” and he explicitly expressed support for NATO.

• Mr. Trump’s trip to Europe is expected to culminate with a highstakes meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday.

‘Welcome to Hell’ protesters vow to disrupt G-20 meeting.

In what may be a preview of the scene in Hamburg during the meetings between the leaders of the world’s 20 leading economies, protesters converged Thursday night for a demonstration called “Welcome to Hell.” Up to 100,000 protesters were expected in the coming days, and 20,000 police officers from across Germany and neighboring countries were dispatched to provide security.

The crowds massed on Thursday just beyond the area cordoned off by the police where the summit meetings were scheduled to take place. On Wednesday night, several peaceful protesters filled the streets, gyrating to techno dance beats. But the crowds on Thursday were larger and more aggressive.

Protesters clad in black and wearing balaclavas, which are forbidden by law during protests in Germany, threw bottles and stones at helmeted police officers who responded with water cannons and pepper spray.

Residents and workers at businesses in the area were anxious.

“We’re a bit worried that the protesters will destroy the shop, and I’m worried about being able to get home,” said Jennifer Gand, who works at a retail kiosk in the St. Pauli district in central Hamburg. “But what can you do other than treat the protests like they don’t matter and carry on?”

About a dozen armored police trucks formed an extended barricade near the main train station in St. Pauli and riot police officers took up positions on the streets.

“Everyone is afraid, the roads are closed — it is really hard and horrifying,” said Sabine Kühl, a designer who lives in Hamburg and was waiting for the protesters to arrive. “It’s the small group of violent demonstrators who wear masks, who are anonymous, that cause problems. They’re why I’m staying home from work tomorrow. I don’t want to wander into a dangerous situation they create.” — David Shimer and Melissa Eddy

In speech, Trump calls for unity against terrorism.

Mr. Trump delivered a message on Thursday of determination in the face of terrorism to the Polish people in a speech in Krasinski Square, where a monument commemorates the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis, calling on the West to defend itself in a good-versus-evil fight against extremism.

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he said, employing the same life-or-death language as his inauguration speech, which promised a war against the “American carnage” of urban crime.

“Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

Trump demands that Moscow halt ‘destabilizing activities.’

In the strongest terms that he has used to date, Mr. Trump used his speech to urge Russia to stop its “destabilizing activities” and its support for “hostile regimes” including Iran and Syria, delivering a broadside on the eve of his meeting with Mr. Putin, and he said that Poland had agreed to buy the Patriot missile defense system from the United States.

Mr. Trump made the remarks during a visit calculated in part to signal his backing for a NATO ally, Poland, that is facing Russian aggression on its eastern flank. And he made an explicit pledge to honor the collective defense principle that undergirds the trans-Atlantic alliance, something he pointedly refused to do in May when he spoke at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

While Mr. Trump made mention of the terrible toll wreaked by the Nazis on Poland and its once thriving Jewish population, many of his comments were targeted at the onetime invaders from the East. The president noted that Joseph Stalin had halted his troops outside the city during the uprising, allowing German forces to exterminate or capture Polish partisans fighting in the ruins of the city.

“The Soviet armed forces stopped and waited,” he reminded his Polish audience, drawing applause as well as chants of “Donald Trump!” and “Hail to the heroes!” The Soviets, he added, “tried to destroy this nation forever by shattering its will to survive.” — Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Glenn Thrush

Putin indicates he’s willing to work with Merkel.

Mr. Putin weighed in on the disputes looming over the G-20 summit meeting, publishing a signed piece in Germany’s leading business daily, Handelsblatt, on Thursday that expressed support for the German hosts on free trade and preserving the Paris climate accord.

In the same piece, however, he also appealed to the West to lift sanctions “which have no future” or place in the digital global economy of the 21st century.

The Russian leader is scheduled to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France for talks that German officials said would focus on the conflict in Ukraine. He is also scheduled to meet with Mr. Trump on Friday. — Alison Smale

Poland loves America, but views on Trump are more complicated.

President Trump got a full dose of adulation from the overflow crowd that greeted him in Krasinski Square, which was filled with Polish and American flags and dominated by the imposing monument to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

“I respect Mr. Trump’s views on immigrants,” said Slawomir Famulski, 38, who brought his two children, Zofia, 10, and Tomasz, 8, to “teach them about patriotism.”

Mr. Famulski’s family clustered near a giant television screen on a side street. The choice of the square, with its monument to the heroic but doomed uprising against Nazi occupation, sent a clear message, he said. “He is letting both Germany and Russia know to back off Poland,” Mr. Famulski said of Mr. Trump.

While opinions about the current American president are split, Poland is perhaps the most fiercely pro-American country in Europe.

Trump’s decision not to visit Warsaw Ghetto monument is called a ‘slight.’

Mr. Trump drew criticism from Polish Jews for failing to visit a monument at the site of the Warsaw Ghetto that memorializes an uprising by Jews against the Nazis in 1943.

Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland; Anna Chipczynska, president of the Jewish Community of Warsaw; and Leslaw Piszewski, the president of Union of Jewish Communities of Poland, called Mr. Trump’s omission “a slight.”

Every American president and vice president who has visited Warsaw since the fall of communism in 1989 has visited the monument to the doomed but heroic ghetto uprising.

Hours after the Jewish leaders issued their rebuke, the White House said that Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, who is an observant Jew, had visited the ghetto monument on Thursday, where she laid a wreath, and visited the Polin Museum of the History of the Jews. — Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Rick Lyman

Was Russia solely responsible for campaign meddling? ‘Nobody really knows.’

Mr. Trump suggested on Thursday that he still was not convinced that Russia was solely responsible for interference in the 2016 election, breaking with American intelligence agencies who have agreed that the effort emanated from Moscow and was directed by Mr. Putin.

“I think it was Russia, and it could have been other people in other countries,” Mr. Trump said when asked for a yes-or-no answer to the question about Russian meddling.

“Nobody really knows,” he added, arguing that American intelligence agencies had made serious mistakes in the past, including an assessment before the United States-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction. “Nobody really knows for sure.” — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

Trump criticizes CNN, denounces ‘fake news’ and defends a divisive tweet.

President Trump tag-teamed with Poland’s president to denounce the news media — hitting CNN and “fake news” while defending what he suggested was a lighthearted tweet of a video showing him body-slamming a figure whose head was replaced by the CNN logo.

What made Mr. Trump’s sermon against the mainstream media different this time was the fact Mr. Duda’s center-right party, Law and Justice, proposed restricting media access to Parliament last year. The government backed down after street protests.

“They have been fake news for a long time, and they have been covering me” in a dishonest way, Mr. Trump said of CNN when asked about the tweet at the news conference with Mr. Duda at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. “We don’t want fake news,” he added, as Mr. Duda nodded vigorously in agreement.

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