Trump Claims Defense Money is Pouring Into NATO After Speech

President Trump on Saturday claimed that money was “beginning to pour in” to NATO, just two days after he gave a speech scolding allies for not paying their fair share at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

“Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger,” Trump tweeted Saturday.

Trump’s wording misrepresents how NATO is organized by suggesting that nations pay the alliance; each nation funds its own defense spending under the NATO umbrella. There is not a specific fund money would be pouring into.

Trump has frequently assailed the treaty organization as “unfair” to the U.S., arguing that other member states have long failed to uphold their defense spending commitments. Only five NATO countries — the U.S., Greece, Estonia, the U.K. and Poland — have met the treaty’s agreement that countries spend at least 2 percent of their annual GDP on defense by 2024.

Trump reiterated that sentiment while speaking to NATO allies this week, saying the members “must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations.”

[The Hill]

‘The Germans Are Bad, Very Bad’: Trump Pledges to ‘Stop’ German Car Sales to US

President Donald Trump is ready to fight Germany in an auto battle according to Germany’s Der Spiegel.

Trump got a chilly reception at the NATO summit in Belgium after attacking fellow members. But he was caught pledging a battle with German automakers as part of his anger with “back dues” he feels the country owes to NATO. As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted Thursday, “Trump seems to think it’s like a country club.”

In a discussion about the country’s trade surplus, Trump said. “The Germans are evil, very evil.”

“Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US, and we’ll stop that,” sources told Der Spiegel.

According to the report, EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker took up for Germany explaining that “free trade is good for all.”

According to a report from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” the EU allies were horrified by the willingness of the Americans to view global trade with such a lack of awareness. Trump’s economic consultant Gary Cohn was said to have chided German auto trade during a discussion between the US and Germany and the USA and Belgium. Trump had previously attacked them during another conversation.

“I would say to BMW if they want to build a factory in Mexico and sell cars to the US without a 35 percent tax, they can forget that,” Trump said at the time.

The report revealed that since that comment, there has been “a threat of a criminal tax” in the room.

Trump is bothered by Germany’s trade surplus because many other countries have deficits, particularly the U.S.

[Raw Story]

Trump Blasts NATO Allies for Not Paying Fair Share

Standing before NATO allies in Brussels, President Trump offered a strong rebuke of members who are not meeting defense spending obligations — saying it’s “not fair” to American taxpayers.

“I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations. But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying, and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” said Trump.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years, and not paying in those past years,” said Trump.

[ABC News]

Reality

Donald Trump made the mistake back in July 2016 of his lack of knowledge on NATO, and in his speech in a room full of our NATO allies it was clear he still does not understand how NATO works.

Ivo Daalder, the former U.S. permanent representative on NATO, called out Trump’s misunderstanding in March 2017 in a series of tweets that begin, “Sorry Mr President, that’s not how NATO works.”

“The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending NATO. This is not a financial transaction, where NATO countries pay the US to defend them. Although it’s true that only five of 28 NATO countries spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, many are now increasing their defense budgets. That’s a good thing, but even when they do increase their defense budgets, no funds will be paid to the US, but all funds go into a pool. Europe must spend more on defense, but not as favor (or payment) to the US. But because their security requires it.”

Trump: NATO Is ‘No Longer Obsolete’

President Trump on Wednesday said that NATO is “no longer obsolete” — a big change after Trump repeatedly called the alliance obsolete on the campaign trail.

At a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said that he will continue to work closely with NATO allies, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism.

“The secretary-general and I had a productive discussion on what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism,” Trump said at Wednesday’s press conference. “I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change and now they do fight terrorism.”

“I said it was obsolete,” he continued. “It is not longer obsolete.”

During the 2016 campaign and after his election, Trump frequently criticized NATO as “obsolete” and knocked allies for not paying their “fair share.”

At Wednesday’s press conference, Trump reiterated his call that NATO allies “meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe.”

He said he discussed with Stoltenberg his desire that allies fulfill their responsibility to spent 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024.

Trump will travel to Brussels to attend a NATO summit on May 25.

(h/t The Hill)

Media

Trump Tweets Suggest President (Still) Doesn’t Understand How NATO Works

Less than 24 hours after a very awkward and frosty meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to blast Germany for failing to pay enough to NATO and the United States for security. First though, the president began with a conciliatory message, writing that the meeting with Merkel went great. “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” he wrote Saturday morning. But then the president added: “Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

That statement echoed what Trump said during his joint news conference with Merkel on Friday, when he called on NATO members to contribute their “fair share,” saying that “many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States.” Although that could be open to interpretation, the commander in chief’s tweets on Saturday, though, seem to suggest Trump doesn’t really understand how NATO is funded. The New York Times explains:

The message was misleading because no nation actually “owes” money to NATO; its direct funding is calculated through a formula and paid by each of the 28 nations that are members.

Mr. Trump may have been referring to the fact that Germany, like most NATO countries, falls short of the alliance’s guideline that each member should allocate 2 percent of its gross domestic product to military spending, but that money is not intended to be paid to NATO or to the United States.

Ivo Daalder, the former U.S. permanent representative on NATO, called out Trump’s seeming mistake in a series of tweets that begin, “Sorry Mr President, that’s not how NATO works.”

“The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending Nato. This is not a financial transaction, where Nato countries pay the US to defend them,” Daalder wrote. Although it’s true that only five of 28 NATO countries spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, many are now increasing their defense budgets. “That’s a good thing,” he added. But even when they do increase their defense budgets, “no funds will be paid to the US … Europe must spend more on defense, but not as favor (or payment) to the US. But because their security requires it.”

These mistakes on Trump’s end are hardly new. During the presidential campaign, Trump frequently talked about NATO in a confusing way that left his statements open to interpretation.

(h/t Slate)

 

 

Trump Lawyer Pushed Pro-Russia Deal For Ukraine

The setting was a Manhattan restaurant, and after 25 minutes what allegedly emerged was a pro-Russian peace plan for Ukraine that its author believes may have ended up in the White House.

In a CNN interview, Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko said he discussed his left-field proposal for Ukraine in January with US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who offered to deliver the plan to the Trump administration.

The exact details of the plan are unclear, yet reports have suggested it revolves around leasing Crimea — annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014 — to Moscow for 50 to 100 years. In exchange, Russia would withdraw its troops from the separatist regions in Ukraine’s war-torn east.

Artemenko declined to discuss the plan’s details, yet hinted that a lease might be part of the idea.

The lawmaker says Cohen, who has long advised Trump, wanted to take the plan to Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser.

Any suggestion that the White House might consider a plan that formalizes Russia’s control of Crimea would cause consternation in Kiev and among its allies in Europe. The White House has flatly denied any knowledge of the proposal.

In his interview with CNN, Artemenko shines a light on how a key Trump associate was allegedly prepared to push a controversial peace plan that might benefit Russia at a time when questions were being raised about the Trump’s ties to that country.

The Ukrainian member of parliament told CNN he met Cohen through a mutual acquaintance, businessman Felix Sater, and that the three had dinner in a Manhattan hotel in January.

Cohen told CNN in a text message that although he had dinner with Artemenko, they never discussed peace in Ukraine. Other media organizations reported that he offered them a different account. The White House has denied that Cohen delivered any peace plan to Flynn.

Russia and Ukraine have since rejected the plan, and Artemenko has now become the subject of investigation for treason for suggesting it to Cohen.

In a hurried interview in a Kiev hotel, Artemenko said Cohen told him that Flynn — who resigned in mid-February due to a controversy over calls with the Russian ambassador to the US — was his best connection at the White House.

“Michael Flynn is the best person, the best of my connections in the Trump administration, who if he likes [it], it’s going to [get] huge support, huge support,” Cohen said, according to Artemenko.

Flynn did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on this story.

Artemenko knew the proposal would be controversial as it undercuts both the US and Ukrainian diplomatic corps, and he says he knows it angered Kiev, who will have seen it as a pro-Russian proposal.

“That’s why I feel pressure, and for sure today I can see people accusing me, and I see the prosecutor of Ukraine is trying to do something, to open a new case, to do an investigation about me,” he told CNN.

He said of the January meeting that Sater invited Cohen to “a dinner in the hotel in Manhattan, and we probably spoke around 20-25 minutes, where I presented my intentions, my peace plan for the Ukraine, how we can stop the war, how we can stop the killing.”

Artemenko said he had never dreamed that his proposal would be seen by the White House, but he claims Cohen said the plan had “great potential” and wanted to deliver it to the Trump administration.

“It was Michael Cohen’s idea,” he said. “He [Cohen] mentioned his name first in my meetings. And he said ‘listen, Michael Flynn’ — from his personal opinion — ‘is most powerful man who can really support this idea, who can support, who can help you, who can provide this information to President Trump.'”

Flynn resigned 24 days into the job after misleading administration officials regarding his communications with the Russian ambassador to the US before Trump took office.

Flynn made several calls to the ambassador in December, including some on the same day that the outgoing Obama administration placed fresh sanctions on Russia over alleged election meddling.

The Justice Department also warned the Trump administration in January that Flynn could be subject to Russian blackmail, a person familiar with the matter told CNN last month.

In a text message to CNN, Cohen denied delivering any documents to Flynn, and refuted Artemenko’s recollection of their January conversation.

“If this continued fake news narrative wasn’t so ridiculous, I would be angered. Despite the multitude of statements issued denying any nexus between Presidents Trump and [Russian President Vladimir Putin], the main stream media just keeps on trying to perpetuate this lie.

“I acknowledge that the brief meeting took place, but emphatically deny discussing this topic or delivering any documents to the White House and/or General Flynn; something I stated to the New York Times.”

According to the Times, Cohen said he left a sealed envelope with the proposed peace plan in Flynn’s office. Later, Cohen denied delivering a peace plan to Flynn.
Artemenko insists, however, that it was Cohen’s idea to show the peace proposal to the senior White House official. “It was his idea, absolutely his idea,” he said.

After Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, it sent military help to separatists in the country’s east, where violent conflict over disputed territory drags on to this day.

Kiev has refused to discuss the official transfer of the peninsula to Russia, and dismissed Artemenko’s plan as a result.

Moscow considers the peninsula already its territory, after its residents — under a substantial Russian military presence — voted in a 2014 referendum to join the Russian Federation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov says Russia refuses to discuss the lease of a region it already controls: “How can Russia rent its own region? This question itself is absurd.”

Sater, who attended the dinner with Artemenko, did not respond to emailed questions, yet he emphatically denied any links between the Trump camp and Russia in an interview with Fox News: “What could be wrong in helping stop a war and trying to achieve peace? I have done so much for my country and thought that promoting peace was a good thing. People are getting killed, it’s a war.”

A White House spokesman offered this statement in response to CNN’s request for comment: “No one in the White House — including the President, Vice President and senior members of the NSC — has spoken to Mr. Cohen about any Russia-Ukraine peace proposal, and no one has spoken to Andrii Artemenko at all about any matter.

“In addition, the NSC keeps comprehensive records of documents received, and we have no record of receiving any proposal from Mr. Cohen. This is another absurd, misleading attempt to distract from the real reform taking place under President Trump.”

Artemenko left the interview with CNN to attend what he said was a meeting with the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, although the presidential administration denied such a meeting took place.

Yet moments after leaving the interview, Ukrainian prosecutors announced he would be investigated for “treason” over the deal.

(h/t CNN)

Trump: Incorrectly States Putin is ‘Not Gonna Go Into Ukraine’

Donald Trump said in an interview Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t going to go into Ukraine, even though the Russian military has intervened in the nation’s affairs since 2014.

“He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down,” Trump said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” Host George Stephanopoulos pushed back, saying, “Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?”

“OK, well, he’s there in a certain way,” Trump responded.

“But I’m not there. You have [President] Obama there. And, frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama, with all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this.”

(h/t The Hill)

Reality

Ukraine isn’t part of the NATO coalition, so US soldiers would have no legal right to show up on their sovereign lands to fight and defend against Russian troops, risking a much larger conflict.

Instead President Obama, along with European countries, enacted sanctions against Russia. The sanctions have been very effective, which contributed to the collapse of the Russian ruble and the 2014–15 Russian financial crisis.

The result being the Minsk and Minsk II diplomatic agreements where Russia agreed to pull their military out of Ukraine.

Media

Trump to Look at Recognizing Crimea as Russian Territory

Donald Trump said that, if he is elected president, he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lifting the sanctions against Russia.

Donald Trump said he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lifting the sanctions against the country if he’s elected president.

At a wide-ranging news conference, Trump said he “would be looking into that” when asked about his stance on Crimea and Russia.

In February 2014, pro-Russian gunmen took over government buildings in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, and held a referendum in March of that year in which an overwhelming majority of voters said they wanted to rejoin Russia. Then Russian President Vladimir Putin took advantage of a popular revolt which toppled Kiev’s pro-Russian government and annexed the territory shortly thereafter.

The United States, along with the European Union, has refused to recognize the annexation or the referendum legitimizing it, and has enforced sanctions on Russian state banks and corporations.

Trump’s comments on Crimea came during the same news conference that he suggested Russia hack Hillary Clinton’s email server to “find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” The remark has been harshly criticized, and the Clinton campaign said it has now become a national security issue.

(h/t Politico, The Atlantic)

Reality

Donald Trump has been making a lot of pro-Russian stances.

Media

Links

CSPAN video of exact question.

Trump Remarks on NATO Trigger Alarm Bells in Europe

Donald Trump set off alarm bells in European capitals after suggesting he might not honor the core tenet of the NATO military alliance.

Trump said the U.S. would not necessarily defend new NATO members in the Baltics in the event of Russian attack if he were elected to the White House.

He told The New York Times in an interview published Thursday that doing so would depend on whether those countries had “fulfilled their obligations to us” in terms of their financial contributions to the alliance.

“You can’t forget the bills,” Trump told the paper. “They have an obligation to make payments. Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make. That’s a big thing. You can’t say forget that.”

(h/t NBC News)

Reality

NATO is not just a defensive military alliance against a Russia that looks to expand, but it is also a projection of American influence in Europe. Some, like Trump, may take NATO for granted now but just 2 years prior Russia invaded and annexed Crimea from southern Ukraine.

Trump’s comments were perceived by some analysts as carte blanche for Russia to intimidate NATO allies and a potential harbinger of the alliance’s collapse, which would be a global crisis, were Trump to be elected.

NATO’s treaty states that an attack on one member state constitutes an attack on all, a principle enshrined in Article 5 of the alliance’s treaty.

“If Trump wants to put conditions through Article 5, he would endanger the whole alliance,” said Beyza Unal, a fellow at the London-based Chatham House think tank.

Sarah Lain, a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, agreed. She said that Article 5 is the “core” of NATO’s defense strategy.

“The suggestion that Trump may consider abandoning a guarantee of protection to fellow NATO countries would in some ways indeed make NATO obsolete,” Lain told NBC News in an email.

Responses

In an interview with the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Trump’s comments a “rookie mistake.”

“I am willing to kind of chalk it up to a rookie mistake,” he said. “I don’t think there is anybody he would choose to be secretary of defense or secretary of state who would have a different view from my own.”

Two additional Senate Republicans, neither of whom is attending this week’s Republican National Convention, condemned his comments, suggesting Congress would not follow his lead on the issue if he is commander-in-chief.

“As [Russian President Vladimir] Putin revives Soviet-style aggression and the threat of violent Islam looms over European and American cities, the United States stands with our NATO allies,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., one of the most vocal elected officials in the never-Trump movement, said in a statement.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump’s former Republican primary opponents, accused him of appeasing the Russian president with his assertions.

“I can only imagine how our allies in NATO, particularly the Balkan states, must feel after reading these comments from Mr. Trump. I’m 100 percent certain how Russian President Putin feels — he’s a very happy man,” Graham said.

“If Mr. Trump is serious about wanting to be commander-in-chief, he needs to better understand the job, which is to provide leadership for the United States and the free world,” Graham continued, also calling for Trump to “correct” his statements during his prime-time address Thursday evening.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, a former Air Force pilot, told ABC News he was deeply disturbed by Trump’s comments about NATO.

“To protect American first you have to have strong alliances,” he said. “This alliance has prevented 60 years of war.”

Trump’s comments, Kinzinger added, were “ridiculous and reckless,” and suggest that Trump doesn’t understand foreign policy.

Members of the Democratic Party also slammed Trump’s remarks, accusing him of friendliness with the same unsavory leaders with whom Republicans have accused President Barack Obama of being too conciliatory.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest noted that Republicans have long accused Obama of going on a “global apology tour.”

“I guess that means that there is some irony associated with the case that’s being made by the Republican nominee at this point,” Earnest said.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign condemned Trump’s remarks, also accusing him of cozying up to Putin.

“Over the course of this campaign, Trump has displayed a bizarre and occasionally obsequious fascination with Russia’s strongman, Vladimir Putin. And he has policy positions — and advisers — to match,” Clinton senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said, citing a Washington Post report that Trump staffers persuaded convention delegates to strip language from the GOP platform that would have called for “providing lethal defensive weapons” to the Ukrainian military.

The White House has declined to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons, but mainstream Republicans have long called for the president to do so.

“Just this week, we learned that the Trump campaign went to great lengths to remove a plank from the GOP platform about aid to Ukraine that would have offended Putin, bucking a strongly held position within his own party … It is fair to assume that Vladimir Putin is rooting for a Trump presidency.”

Kingzinger, who isn’t sure if he’ll support Trump and has frequently criticized Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements, called the platform change “curious for sure.”

Although NATO does not frequently comment on issues related to member nations’ domestic politics, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, weighed in on Trump’s comments, defending European allies’ contributions to NATO while avoiding commenting on the election directly.

“European allies are also stepping up,” he said. “For the first time in many years, defense spending among European allies and Canada rose last year.”

Secretary of State John Kerry was also pulled in to the fracas Thursday, fielding a question about Trump’s comments at a press conference at the State Department.

Prefacing his comments by saying he wasn’t making a statement about the presidential race, Kerry said he would restate American policy towards NATO.

“This administration, like every administration Republican and Democrat alike since 1949, remains fully committed to the NATO alliance and to our security commitments under Article 5, which is absolutely bedrock to our membership and to our partnership with NATO.”

Trump was also questioned about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the failed military coup, and told the New York Times that the United States has “a lot of problems.”

“Our nominee is making the same arguments you hear in Russian propaganda and that you hear from left-wing liberals,” Kinzinger said of Trump’s criticisms.

Links

Quick history of NATO.

Why is NATO still needed, even after the downfall of the Soviet Union?

Trump Questions Need For NATO

Donald Trump said the U.S. should rethink its involvement in NATO because the defense alliance costs too much money.

In remarks to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Trump said the U.S. pays a disproportionate amount to NATO to ensure the security of allies.

“Frankly, they have to put up more money,” he said. “We are paying disproportionately. It’s too much, and frankly it’s a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea.”

In a CNN Town Hall Trump said about NATO:

“[NATO is] costing us too much money, and frankly, have to put up more money… We’re taking care of, as an example, the Ukraine. I mean, the countries over there don’t seem to be so interested. We’re the ones taking the brunt of it. So I think we have to reconsider — keep NATO, but maybe we have to pay a lot less toward the NATO itself. “

Reality

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and Washington is not providing arms to the government as it is fighting pro-Moscow rebels, though has provided nonlethal aid and has helped support international bailouts of the Ukrainian economy. Once the third-largest nuclear power in the world, Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear weapons in return for an assurance that the U.S. would help protect its sovereignty. Critics point out that Trump’s remarks were “really quite astonishing,” speculating that Trump is ignorant of the United States’ diplomatic relations with Ukraine.

It’s unfortunate that a day after making these remarks a terrorist attack occurred in Brussels, highlighting the importance of NATO.

It is important to point out that the United States “taking the brunt” as Mr. Trump has suggested, is a bit of loaded statement. All member countries have pledged at lest 2% of their GDP to fund NATO, and the United States has by far and away the highest GDP of all member nations, in-fact 6 times more than Germany who has the next highest GDP of the NATO members. The whole theory of NATO is to keep the United States involved in Europe long-term, to promote our goals, and to deter another world war, so of course we would be spending more. However it is fair to point out that President Obama has been critical of some of the European partners for not spending enough to fund NATO.

Links

http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/21/politics/elections-2016-final-five-highlights/index.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-hopelessly-naive-dead-wrong-on-nato-gop-candidates-say/

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