White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has confirmed Donald Trump is considering an attempt to buy Greenland.
US presidents have paid for territory before. In 1803, Thomas Jefferson bought huge tracts of land from France for $15m in the Louisiana Purchase. In 1867, Andrew Johnson paid $7.2m for Alaska from Russia.
Woodrow Wilson bought territory from Denmark, the current owner of Greenland. In 1917 the Danish West Indies cost $25m before being renamed as the US Virgin Islands.
But after Trump’s interest was reported this week, the government of the semi-autonomous territory, which is the world’s largest island, insisted it was not for sale.
Kudlow appeared on Fox News Sunday, for an interview mostly given over to rejecting fears of looming recession and defending administration policy on trade with China.
Finishing the chat, host Dana Perino asked: “If you get asked to go do a site survey about purchasing Greenland, can I go with you?”
“Well,” said Kudlow, laughing, “maybe I’ll run the central bank”.
He continued: “Look, it’s an interesting story. It’s developing. We’re looking at it. We don’t know. Years ago, Harry Truman wanted to buy Greenland.”
That is true: the Democrat offered Denmark $100m in 1946 but was turned down.
“Denmark owns Greenland,” Kudlow said. “Denmark is an ally.”
But he also pointed out reasons for US interest: “Greenland is a strategic place up there and they’ve got a lot of valuable minerals.”
The US military has operated for decades from Thule Air Base in Greenland, the northern-most US base which is part of a global network of radars and sensors for missile warnings and space surveillance.
“I don’t want to predict it now,” Kudlow said. “I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look at a potential Greenland purchase.”
Nonetheless, Fox host Perino seemed taken with the idea.
“All I’m saying,” she repeated, “is if you get asked to go and do a site survey, I’d love to accompany you on the trip and do an interview out there”.
“You know,” said Kudlow, “I could make that happen.”
Perino thanked him.
“I could make that happen,” Kudlow repeated. “Thank you, Dana. Appreciate it.”
Perino said: “Bye-bye.”
Trump is scheduled to visit Denmark in September, as part of a trip to Europe.