Trump Administration Reportedly Still Looking At Buying Greenland

On the Sunday shows today, one of the President's top aides insisted that the Administration is seriously looking at the idea of buying Greenland even though it isn't for sale.

Larry Kudlow, one of the President’s chief economic advisers, insisted today that the Administration is seriously “looking at” the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark:

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday confirmed that the Trump administration is exploring trying to buy the country of Greenland, noting that the self-governing country is a “strategic place” that is rich in minerals.

“It’s developing. We’re looking at it,” Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Denmark owns Greenland. Denmark is an ally. Greenland is a strategic place … I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look.”

President Trump’s desire to buy Greenland, which is part of the kingdom of Denmark, was first reported last week by the Wall Street Journal. Two people with direct knowledge of the directive told The Washington Postthat Trump has mentioned the idea for weeks, and aides are waiting for more direction before they decide how seriously they should look into it.

Trump is scheduled to visit Denmark in two weeks. In the days since news of Trump’s interest in Greenland broke, the idea has been ridiculed by politicians in Denmark, and Greenland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday that the island is not for sale.

“Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism,” the ministry said in a tweet. “We’re open for business, not for sale.”

While many in the United States have mocked the idea, one Democratic lawmaker on Sunday voiced openness to considering it. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “changes are happening” in Greenland due to climate change, “and the people up there understand it and they’re trying to adjust to it.”

“We have a very strategic base up there, a military base, which we visited,” Manchin said, referring to his visit to Greenland earlier this year as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation. “And I understand the strategy for that in that part of the world and the Arctic opening up the way it is now.”

He called Trump’s idea “a very interesting proposal” and said the Armed Services Committee, on which Manchin sits, should be receiving a secure briefing about it in the near future if the plan actually “has any merit to it.”

Trump is not the first U.S. president to propose buying Greenland.

Kudlow noted Sunday that after World War II, President Harry Truman’s administration offered to purchase the country from Denmark for $100 million. The U.S. military had a presence in Greenland during the war as a means to protect the continent if Germany tried to attack.

This all started late last week when The Wall Street Journal reported that the President had, for some reason, gotten the idea in his head of purchasing the world’s largest island, which presently consists of a lot of ice and about 57,000 Danish and Inuit citizens as well as the host of a large American base located in the ice-covered northwestern part of the country and which has essentially been in existence since World War II. It’s unclear where the President got the idea. There’s no record of it having been mentioned on Fox News Channel before this report, for example, so it isn’t one of those instances. Who knows? Maybe Trump was just looking at a map one day and came up with this idea on his own. It’s also been suggested that he might see this as some kind of way for him to create a legacy by becoming the first President since Andrew Johnson was persuaded by William Seward to purchase Alaska from Russia to add to the territory of the United States.

Whatever the origin of the idea, it’s clear that it’s not going to happen. As I noted on Friday, politicians in Greenland have already rejected the idea. Since then, politicians in Denmark have reacted in the same way and the people of Greenland seem to be a mixture of bemused and insulted by the whole thing:

TASIILAQ, Greenland — In this coastal town of about 2,000 people in eastern Greenland, residents weren’t sure whether to believe the news: Could President Donald Trump really be serious about wanting to buy Greenland?

“I think we take it as a sick joke by a crazy president,” said Anna Kûitse Kúko, 63, who has lived in Tasiilaq nearly all of her life and teaches English here. The remark was one of several from local residents who reacted with a mixture of mockery and anger to the reports, which originated with a report by in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.


The office of Greenland’s Premier Kim Kielsen also pushed back on the idea of a sale: “We have a good cooperation with U.S.A., and we see it as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the possibilities we offer,” the office said in a statement. “Of course, Greenland is not for sale. Because of the unofficial nature of the news, the government of Greenland has no further comments.”

A spokesman for the Danish Foreign Ministry said that a statement was forthcoming.

In Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, Thomas Juul-Pedersen didn’t know quite how to react to the reports on Trump’s interest.

“I honestly don’t know what to say,” Juul-Pedersen, science and education coordinator at the Greenland Climate Research Centre, said in an email, “as I have a hard time taking it seriously.”

Niels Tvis Knudsen, an associate professor emeritus at Aarhus University in Denmark who has done fieldwork in east Greenland since the 1970s, said he’s concerned about outsiders coming in to exploit the country’s natural resources and take advantage of its lack of government infrastructure.

“They don’t have an army,” he said. “They don’t have an embassy. They don’t have any of those things that a normal state has.”

Online, locals mocked the idea of Trump’s interest in buying their homeland.

“Wow I didn’t know trump knew greenland existed,” tweeted Miki Fleischer from Nuuk.

“Oh please God no,” wrote Emil Malta in response to the idea.

Another resident reposted a parody photo of a traditional Greenlandic landscape unexpectedly dwarfed by a glittering gold Trump Tower.

“You cannot be serious! We are not something you can just buy. Keep away from our country,” said Greenlander Allan Schroder in a series of angry tweets.

Denmark’s former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen expressed confusion over the suggestion. “It must be an April Fool’s Day joke … but totally out of season!” he wrote.

Rufus Gifford, former U.S. ambassador to Denmark, called the idea ”a complete and total catastrophe.”

Greenland “is remarkably pristine and complex. A place unlike any other corner of the planet. It simply must be handled with immense care and the best intentions for the people there and the global climate,” he wrote.

“If anyone believes Trump has either in mind, please reconsider your reality.”

There is not going to be any sale of Greenland, of course, and in the end this will probably be dismissed as another one of the President’s foolish ideas that grabbed headlines for a few days. At the same time, it’s a perfect example of just how erratic and bizarre his thinking is and how difficult it must be for White House aides to figure out when he’s making a serious proposal and when he’s just spouting nonsense. This is clearly an example of the second, at least I think it is. I mean, he can’t possibly be serious, can he?

FILED UNDER: Climate Change, Open Forum, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    To me the most interesting question is: Where did he get this idea? He appears to have no historical knowledge, certainly not of U.S. foreign policy. Did someone propose it to him as a sly joke?

  2. Hal_10000 says:

    Maybe this will all go away if someone explains the Mercator projection to him.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    I’ll bet you that if we offered Trump ten billion dollars to fuck off, he’d take it. He’s for sale and assumes everyone else must be. What a sad little man.

  4. Joe says:

    I sometimes think that Trump critics (commenters here, included) hyperventilate about the “reporting” of peripheral steam emanating from some Whitehouse staff member that may or may not have gotten 2 seconds of attention from our Dear Leader. I was entirely prepared to treat this as one of those instances. And then, along comes Kudlow to confirm that this not only was a real thing, but it continues to be one. Apparently this Administration is here to do nothing more than to troll us, and now they’re trolling innocent Greenlanders along the way.

  5. Carol says:

    @CSK: He saw the recent articles about melting Greenland glaciers and it dawned on him that Greenland will be a tropical island one day soon just begging for trump-branded ocean-side properties.

  6. de stijl says:

    I saw on Zillow that the asking price on the Congo just went down 5 grand because they had had no reasonable offers and it’s been on the market over a hundred days. They’re very motivated.

    I figure we could offer 7% below asking with a cash deal and close next week.

    It’s a fixer-upper.

  7. Teve says:

    Avg life expectancy Denmark: 80.7
    Avg life expectancy United States: 78.7

  8. CSK says:

    @Carol: I’d buy that explanation except for the fact that Trump doesn’t read.

  9. de stijl says:


    But we have the best health care on earth. Many PAC and industry funded ads have told me so. It is a consistent R talking point.

    Why would they lie to me?

  10. “I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look”-Kudlow.

    May I continue to point out how gross it is to talk in these terms about part of another country which contains actual human beings. This is decidedly not about a “real estate” deal.

  11. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Perhaps he can harass and bully the residents of Nuuk out of their homes as he did in Atlantic City when they wouldn’t sell to him.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Why do I get the impression that the bulk of people associated with this administration have one or more mental disorders? Either they’re NPDs or BPDs or sadists or just plain going gaga.

    I suspect that as time goes on, we’re going to continue to have to deal with Baby Boomers who a) aren’t ageing well, and b) won’t get off the stage.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Well if Denmark isn’t interested in selling us Greenland, maybe we can interest them in buying one off kilter plutocrat? At a one time low price? Bullshit, gas lighting, and racism thrown in for free. Comes with Duetsche Bank backing, a few useless progeny, and some mortgaged to the max prime real estate. Oh, some Russian connections too, which could be useful for the Danes.

    @Steven L. Taylor: Human beings? What human beings? Have you ever actually met a human being from Greenland? Neither have I. Fake news.

    @grumpy realist:

    I suspect that as time goes on, we’re going to continue to have to deal with Baby Boomers who a) aren’t ageing well, and b) won’t get off the stage.

    As time goes on? Where have you been for the last couple years + 7 months or so?

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’ll bet you that if we offered Trump ten billion dollars to fuck off, he’d take it.

    He’d take a heck of a lot less if it comes with an agreement to not prosecute. And I’d call it cheap.

    On the other hand, we really need to prosecute somebody. Nixon got pardoned. Reagan threw North under the bus. We never went after Cheney and W for war crimes. And we let all the bankers off the hook. No wonder this shit never stops.

  15. Kathy says:

    He should actually buy the Land of Oz., The he can force the Wizard to give him a brain, give his cabinet courage, and give the GOP a heart.

  16. Stormy Dragon says:

    Theory: Trump thinks Greenland is Ireland and that buying it will resolve the backstop issue from holding up Brexit.

  17. de stijl says:

    This is a weird thing to cop to:

    I have a major weakness for North Atlantic wave porn. Big brutal primal ocean waves smashing into headlands and cliffs.

    Turn on some Marin Marais and some NAWP and a decent book and that’s a great night.

    Most of it is Irish islands or north Scottish. Better cliffs.

    I’m not foolin.

    I actually really like videos of north Atlantic wave porn.

    I’ve shared too much.

  18. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Larry Ludlow is a moron and Trump picked him cuz he was on his teevee.

    We traded Janet Yellin for Larry friggin Kudlow who is wrong on everything.

  19. @Stormy Dragon:

    Trump thinks Greenland is Ireland and that buying it will resolve the backstop issue from holding up Brexit.

    Joke’s on you! Trump has no f’ing clue what the backstop is.

  20. @de stijl: Yay for teevee,

  21. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Half the senior staff are folks he liked on FNC or CNBC or Fox Business.

    It’s the equivalent of that Seinfeld episode where Kramer found Merv Griffin’s old set and just went with it.

  22. PJ says:

    Japan should make an offer to buy Hawaii.

  23. de stijl says:

    Imagine if Spain’s head of government president, PM, king / queen whatever said that she’d like to buy Puerto Rico.

    1. What?
    2. 80% of Rs would be totally be on board for that.
    3. Trump would sell PR in an instant.

    We live in a effed up time.

  24. de stijl says:


    You beat me to the punch as I was typing! Great minds think alike.

  25. Slugger says:

    It’s 2136. Nanook Trump, a half-Kaalalit, is running for office. His platform: open season on narwhal and exclusion of illegal immigrants from the Faroe Islands.

  26. Jen says:

    Kudlow doubling down on this is weird.

    I think I’ll go with: Putin dropped a mention of Greenland’s ideal strategic location. Trump’s 2-watt light bulb went off in his head “hey, I’ll scoop him and buy it FIRST.” High jinks ensue, Trump enrages the Danes and the indigenous people of Greenland, they kick the US base off, and Putin chuckles.

    This has no chance of working, however, because the Danes don’t get enraged. They are laughing at this, and the representative interviewed on NPR the other day turned the discussion into a tourism pitch, I kid you not.

  27. An Interested Party says:

    Joke’s on you! Trump has no f’ing clue what the backstop is.

    Oh please…without the letters e-x-i-t he wouldn’t know what Brexit is either…although he is still a little confused with who’s exiting what…

  28. de stijl says:

    I’m pretty sure the backstop is the fence / structure they put behind home plate so if the catcher misses the pitch or the batter foul tips it back, you don’t have to wait two minutes for someone to fetch the ball.

    How that relates to Northern Ireland is anyone’s guess.

    I don’t believe cricket has a backstop. Cricket should really have a backstop.

  29. de stijl says:


    Now that is a theory that actually works. In the not to distant future, when the tropics are uninhabitable, and the so-called Temperate zone is nigh uninhabitable, Greenland, Iceland and Siberia and Patagonia and south New Zealand maybe Tazmania might very well be our last best hope at survival.

    I’m buying property on Baffin Island.

  30. JohnMcC says:

    @de stijl: HA! I used to live on a sail boat. My sis bought me this book for Christmas – the world’s lighthouses. Huge waves enveloping slender little stone spires with mountains of spray.

    Her card said: May you see EVERY ONE of these.

    I forgave her. And the pictures were fun to look at — once I moved on shore.

  31. de stijl says:


    This guy gets it.

    I am not alone.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    We could raise a billion to get Trump gone inside of 24 hours. Just think, he’d be a real billionaire, finally. Or until he started his next Trump Steaks.

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    One of my in the background projects I call 90 South. It’s the last piece of land on earth not under the control of a nation state. Thinking about it as an action script. Jet-powered hovercraft with missiles. Mad scheme to speed melt the ice maybe. Fight scenes inside ice crevices. Contrast with a rain forest or various urban locations. It hasn’t gelled yet.

  34. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    A thing I have an idea or two about is an alien culture bought us up as a way station or rest stop on a galactic highway, but we’re already here.

    To them we are like native Americans or ants. Something to get rid of. Like if you bought a new house and discovered there was an ant-hill or a termite nest right close to your new kitchen. You’d call Orkin and have that dude put down those insecticide spikes just to be sure there was no issue.

    To us it would be extinction, to them it is pest control and policing up the yard to make it presentable.

  35. Gustopher says:

    I wish the Trump administration would pursue this full time — get every cabinet critter working on their plans to integrate a newly purchased Greenland into their departments oversight, have DHS work out how to keep brown people out, etc.

    The more time they spend on this the better. It’s less time to spend on other things.

  36. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    To us it would be extinction, to them it is pest control and policing up the yard to make it presentable.

    Some classic stories along these lines already exist:
    “The Screwfly Solution”, James Tiptree Jr.
    “Blue Butter”, Theodore Sturgeon
    I’m probably forgetting a few…

  37. Slugger says:

    It is late, but as my head was getting ready to hit the pillow, I figured this out. Trump’s plan to buy Greenland is obviously nutso. Ludlow is simply one of the king’s counselors telling him that the new suit looks great on him.

  38. de stijl says:


    I don’t need to be wholly original. I need to do it well.

  39. Bill says:

    @de stijl:

    I’m buying property on Baffin Island.

    Are you going to ski the Asgard? Don’t forget your parachute.

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl:

    I am not alone.

    Yeah, but you’re still a weirdo.

  41. de stijl says:


    That’s 100% true.

  42. grumpy realist says:

    Trump and the obsequious are still insisting that no, indeed, they’re really planning to make an offer for Greenland.

    (The fact that neither Denmark nor the Greenlanders are interested is totally ignored, of course.)

  43. dazedandconfused says:

    Maybe in a couple years we can sell it to one of Putin’s buddies for 5x what we paid for it. Works for run-down Florida mansions.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Cricket doesn’t need a backstop, hitting the wicket makes an out and there’s time to chase down the ball while the new batter comes up. (Also, there’s a catcher behind the wicket IIRC.)

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: You’re not even close to alone. Cannon Beach, OR hotels and motels (among others on the coast) do great business during the winter. Storm watching is big time here! I’d still be doing it but I’m no longer in the economic class that can afford to put up $400+ a night for an ocean front room (in November, no less).

  46. dazedandconfused says:


    Mexico told him they would pay for it.