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EDINBURGH, Scotland — After a tumultuous few days on the world stage, President Donald Trump is set to spend the weekend out of the spotlight.
Trump arrived in Scotland late Friday night for the latest leg of a European trip that has thus far been marked by contentious talks with U.S. allies at the NATO summit in Brussels; public criticism of British Prime Minister Theresa May over trade and Brexit; mass demonstrations against his visit in London and the dramatic spectacle of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announcing a new raft of indictments in the Russia probe just as Trump was arriving at Windsor Castle for tea with Queen Elizabeth II.
The president is expected to enjoy some quiet rounds of golf at Trump Turnberry on Scotland’s west coast — one of his two championship-level resorts in the country — as he prepares for his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
But many in Scotland were marking his visit with noisy demonstrations in Glasgow, a “carnival of resistance” in Edinburgh and rallies outside his coastal resorts in Turnberry, Ayrshire and Balmedie, Aberdeenshire. Police Scotland has drafted 5,000 officers to provide extra security at a cost of up to $6.6 million.
It follows mass marches in London on Friday that attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators; organizers of the main march said 250,000 attended although the Metropolitan Police does not verify crowd estimates.
The president decided to largely avoid London during his trip, perhaps mindful of being confronted or associated with a mass display of public rejection. But the demonstrations were not confined to the capital.
Late Friday in Glasgow, thousands staged a rally in George Square against the president and his policies.
Thousands more gathered for a march through Edinburgh’s city center on Saturday morning.
Tommy Shepherd, a lawmaker in the Scottish National Party, told the crowd: “This man is now the international cheerleader for bigotry, intolerance and prejudice throughout the world and we have to say no to that.”
“We say to America the world is with you in trying to combat the policies of his administration,” Shepherd continued
Trump has long professed a special connection to Scotland, the land of his mother’s birth.
He last visited in 2016, when he held a press conference commending the Brexit vote and took reporters on a tour by golf cart.
“President Trump knows this country probably better than any president in recent history,” Trump’s ambassador to the U.K., Robert “Woody” Johnson, told reporters ahead of Trump’s trip.
But ever since he ventured into Scotland a dozen years ago, Trump has been losing money and waging battles with longtime residents, wind farms and local politicians.
David Milne, whose property overlooks Trump International Links, planned to mark the president’s visit the same way he did the last time Trump appeared: flying the Mexican national flag over his house within sight of the clubhouse to protest Trump’s hardline immigration views.
“He is the president of a country that is allies with us and we have to give a certain amount of respect to the office of the president, even if we think the incumbent is a complete idiot,” said Milne. But, he added, “It would be better for a lot of people if he just stayed at home and saved the fuel.”
Kirsty Haigh of Scotland United Against Trump said, “Trump likes to talk up his Scottish connections, but we are going to show that his politics are not welcome here.”
A lone Greenpeace protester flew a banner reading “Trump: Well Below Par” over Turnberry as the president arrived Friday evening, while campaigners were staging a rally early Saturday outside Trump International Links in Balmedie, where Eric Trump spent Thursday.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did not greet Trump and is not expected to meet him on this visit.
However, he was met by the U.K. government’s Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who said: “I was pleased to greet Mr. Trump on behalf of the U.K. Government when he arrived in Scotland. The U.K. and the USA have a long and important relationship — we have close cultural ties, a strong economic partnership and the U.S. is one of our most important security allies.
“The president’s visit is an opportunity to strengthen those vital links. Mr. Trump is passionate about his Scottish heritage, and I hope he enjoys his visit to Scotland.”
Some supporters of Trump will also march in London. British Trade Secretary Liam Fox said in a radio appearance early Saturday morning that anti-Trump protesters were “an embarrassment to themselves” as they had shown bad manners to the leader of the free world.