President Donald Trump’s approach to foreign policy is shaped by compassion and balance, according to a Trump insider who spoke about the way the United States is handling the Iranian conflict.
Founding partner of the New York law firm Meister Seelig & Fein, Stephen Meister, who has represented Trump in several commercial cases, said the president isn’t a war seeker and doesn’t want “hostilities with any nation.”
“He’s very balanced. He’s actually compassionate, very concerned about the loss of human life on both sides and wanted to have a measured response,” he told Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek on “American Thought Leaders.”
Meister was alluding to the June 20 Iranian missile that, according to the Pentagon, destroyed a U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone in international airspace. Trump later said he had called off a military strike at the last minute after being told the retaliation would kill 150 people, saying on Twitter that it “was not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”
Meister noted that the president has “at least one hawk” in his administration, namely national security adviser John Bolton.
“Bolton has made no bones about the fact that he wants to topple that regime,” he said. “So if anything, I think this response shows how measured, and balanced, and compassionate [Trump] is.”
He added, “I think it’s an interesting piece of the news cycle because it shows how wrong people were about the president and his capabilities and his mindset.”
Meister said Trump understands that it’s always easier to escalate than de-escalate tensions with foreign countries. He said that, in his opinion, the president knew that the sanctions against Iran were working and that it had “driven them to the point of desperation.”
Trump imposed new hard-hitting sanctions on Iran on June 24 that targeted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as the Treasury Department took action against eight “senior commanders” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
In the Oval Office, Trump told reporters at the time he was signing the executive order for the sanctions after a series of “aggressive behaviors” by the Islamic nation, which he described as “not appropriate.”
Meister also said the media played a key role in painting an inaccurate picture of the president. The president’s calling off of the missile, he said, could also influence voters’ opinion of him.
“What will this kind of conduct do to an independent voter or perhaps a centrist Democrat in the privacy of the voting booth? Will some people who were not his traditional base vote for him in the 2020 election?” he asked.
“He’s making good deals, unemployment is at record lows, the stock market is at record highs and maybe he’ll pick up some of these middle voters as a result of them seeing he’s not ‘unbalanced,’ he’s not ‘unhinged,'” Meister said. “He’s deliberative, humanitarian and measured.”
Trump is a “phenomenal negotiator” who knows how to “exert negotiating leverage and pressure,” Meister said, citing his time working with Trump before his presidency.
“I negotiated legal bills with him and his opening positions were very rough—he is a very shrewd successful negotiator,” he explained. “He put up high rises in New York City, he negotiated with all the trades—that’s what he grew up on as a young adult in his business career.”
Meister called the “tariff” deal reached with Mexico a “classic Trump negotiating process.”
“He insisted upon their help and he resorted to his powers—as he did in his private life—to achieve his negotiating objective, and it was a huge success, as far as I’m concerned.”
On June 21, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico would meet with 19 other countries in the coming weeks to try to gather support for a plan to stem the flow of illegal immigrants entering the United States after a deal had been reached to avoid punitive U.S. tariffs on Mexican goods.
Meister said that though Trump has a hardened New York exterior, once you get to know him, all you see are his core family values.
“I think he is a quintessential New York businessman—he can be sarcastic at times, he’s a tough guy, he’s a tough negotiator—and so he kind of has that exterior. But down deep, if you get to know the man, he’s a family man: he loves his children, he loves his family.”
“You saw what happened just now with Iran, he didn’t want to have that loss of life, even among enemies,” he continued. “You see what a staunch supporter of the veterans he is. He has a deep respect for people who risk for our country.”
Meister said the loss of Trump’s brother, who passed away due to alcoholism, had a major impact on Trump’s life.
“He never drinks, he doesn’t smoke, he’s got an unbelievable work ethic, he works crazy hours, and you can see that in this presidency,” he said. “He never stops working and … he’s a counter-puncher. He doesn’t attack immediately. He attacks when he’s attacked, we’ve seen that.”