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Lawmakers on Both Sides Appalled by Trump's Behavior at NATO Summit
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12 Jul 2018 09:39 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Nancy Pelosi (Image source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

Donald Trump's behavior at the NATO summit shouldn't really be too surprising to anyone who has followed him at past summits. He tears down allies while pumping up former adversaries. Yet lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Chuck Schumer D-NY), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Paul Ryan (R-WI), are appalled by his behavior this time around. 

The president started the summit in Brussels with his all-too-frequent refrain, complaining that the U.S. is getting taken advantage of by its allies, this time slamming the other countries for not spending the same two percent on defense that they should be. Additionally, he commented that Germany was "captive to Russia" because it relied on them for energy.

 

Lawmakers seem to have had enough. Senate Minority Leader Schumer and House Minority Leader Pelosi issued a joint statement. "President Trump's brazen insults and denigration of one of America's most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment," they said. 

"His behavior this morning is another profoundly disturbing signal that the president is more loyal to President Putin than to our NATO allies."

 

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) who is on his way out the House door this fall said, "I subscribe to the view that we should not be criticizing our president while he is overseas. But let me say a couple of things — NATO is indispensable; it's as important today as it ever has been." 

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) says the president's comments in Brussels weren't within the U.S.'s national interest and that it could weaken the alliance as a whole. He also worried about the messages it would send to Vladimir Putin ahead of Trump's meeting with him.

 

"I'm very concerned that we have a rough meeting with NATO and then some kind of conciliatory meeting with Putin, and it works against our country's national interest," he said. 

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) disagreed with Trump's comment about Germany. "I don't agree with that, the Germans wouldn't agree with that. They are very strong people," he said. "I think sometimes [Trump] can be a little too critical of our counterparts."

 

Former Secretary of State John Kerry found Trump's comments "destructive." "It was disgraceful, destructive, and flies in the face of the actual interests of the United States of America," he said via a statement. 

"There's a time, place, and manner for raising issues with allies, and trashing them on camera in a way that calls into question the alliance itself isn't it."

 

The ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), believes these types of comments only help Russia. 

"It's so upsetting to see that Putin, whose number one goal is to divide the West, and particularly in NATO, has an American president doing his work for him," he commented. "Putin made a great investment in the 2016 presidential elections, and it's paying off for him in Brussels today."

 

There were a few in Congress who stood by their president. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) defended Trump's comments regarding NATO and noted that the American taxpayers had been footing the bill and carrying France and Germany "on their backs" for years. 

"I think it's about time that somebody in the U.S. stood up to NATO," said Rep. Peter King (R-NY). "Also, the Europeans can be sort of arrogant at times, so it's good to knock them back."

 

Late in the day Tuesday Congress backed up their words. The House passed a non-binding resolution showing support for NATO with a unanimous vote, and the Senate showed its support in a similar fashion.

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