Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday defended President Trump’s push to buy Greenland, revealing that he discussed the idea in a conversation with the president and even proposed it in a meeting with the Danish ambassador.
It was unclear whether Cotton was the first person to raise the idea to the president. Cotton said Wednesday that Trump had received the suggestion “from me and from some other people as well.” A White House spokesman declined to comment.
The revelation from Cotton came one day after Trump called off a trip to Denmark, announcing in a tweet that he was postponing the visit because the country’s leader was not interested in selling Greenland to the United States.
At a luncheon in Little Rock hosted by the Arkansas-based news website Talk Business & Politics, Cotton was asked why the United States was talking about buying Greenland.
“You’re joking,” Cotton told the event’s moderator, “but I can reveal to you that several months ago, I met with the Danish ambassador, and I proposed that they sell Greenland to us.”
He added that “it’s obviously the right decision for the United States, and anyone who can’t see that is blinded by Trump derangement,” according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Greenland is a self-governing country that is part of the kingdom of Denmark. News of Trump’s desire to purchase the island comes amid Chinese and Russian expansion in the Arctic as melting ice makes the region more accessible.
Over the weekend, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the idea of the sale of Greenland “absurd” — a characterization that apparently offended Trump. The president called off his planned visit in a Tuesday-night tweet in which he also thanked Frederiksen for “being so direct.” But he then lashed out at her on Wednesday, calling her comments “nasty.”
Caroline Tabler, Cotton’s communications director, said the senator mentioned the idea of the United States buying Greenland in a conversation with Trump more than a year ago. The two did not discuss the matter again, she said, and Cotton had had no discussions with the president about his now-canceled trip to Denmark.
Cotton also proposed the idea in a conversation with then-Danish Ambassador to the United States Lars Gert Lose in August 2018, Tabler said. The two met in Cotton’s Senate office for a discussion about NATO and other matters, and Cotton at one point raised the prospect of the United States buying Greenland, she said.
“It’s definitely something he’s been thinking about for a while from a national security standpoint, to keep it out of the hands of Russia and China,” Tabler said. She said Cotton believes he may have caught the ambassador “a little off guard” by raising the idea.
People familiar with the president’s interest in Greenland told The Washington Post on Tuesday that he had been talking about the potential purchase for weeks. Senior administration officials had discussed the possibility of offering Denmark a deal in which the United States would take over its annual $600 million subsidy to Greenland in perpetuity, said two people familiar with the talks who were not authorized to reveal the internal deliberations.
In addition to taking over the subsidy, U.S. officials discussed giving Denmark a large one-time payment to incentivize the transfer, the people said.
Damian Paletta contributed to this report.