11:46 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020
European officials say they were blindsided by Trump’s new travel restrictions
US President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office about the widening Coronavirus crisis on March 11, in Washington, DC.
Doug Mills/New York Times/Pool/Getty Images
Europe appears to have been largely blindsided by President Trump’s announcement earlier today that the US was suspending travel from 26 European countries.
Several European ambassadors in Washington tell CNN they didn’t know this was coming, despite having been in contact with the administration over the past few days.
One ambassador in DC said there was “no indication” Trump would go to the lengths he did, while another spokesperson said German officials had no advanced warning this was coming.
“We knew something was coming on travel from Europe (more restrictive travel advice) but not this drastic," the Belgian ambassador told CNN. "What is not understandable is the exception for the UK and the lack of national measures [domestically].”
The Trump administration notified ambassadors after the announcement: Several European ambassadors expressed a need for clarity as they worked to digest what these new measures mean. They had received calls from the State Department after the announcement -- but they "have not yet answers to our questions,” said one ambassador.
State Department officials say they didn’t know precisely what Trump was going to roll out, given the fact that multiple options were on the table.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the Australian Foreign Minister less than five hours before Trump’s address -- and gave no indication of the announcement coming tonight, according to a source familiar with the meeting.
Pompeo did acknowledge that things were going to continue to be painful, and increasingly so, for the next six weeks or so.