- According to a new Politico report, Trump made comments to European diplomats at a private dinner meeting in May 2017 that were “unlike anything they’ve ever heard.”
- The officials in attendance were reportedly more unnerved by his rhetoric at the dinner than they were by his more public comments condemning NATO.
- Despite Trump’s initially tough language on NATO, he has since softened his position, apparently because of his belief that NATO was now taking a stronger stance against terrorism than it had before.
European leaders and diplomats who attended a private dinner with President Donald Trump in May said the comments he made to them were “unlike anything they’ve ever heard,” according to a new Politico report on Trump’s first year in office.
“He was very tough and very outspoken in his intervention,” a European diplomat at the event told Politico.
“All this bluster and blasting,” another attendee recounted. “He walks in and starts talking, breaking china all over the place.”
While news has since spread of leaders’ dissatisfaction with the highly skeptical stance Trump has taken toward the NATO alliance during his time in Brussels, many leaders told Politico that his comments at the dinner shocked them more than any statements he had previously made in public.
In Brussels, Trump railed against NATO member countries that were not paying their “fair share,” all while many NATO and European Union members looked on.
“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,” Trump said in May.
Trump had previously promised to reform NATO extensively on the campaign trail in the 2016 presidential election. Since his time in Brussels, however, Trump has softened his stance on the organization.
“I said two things. NATO’s obsolete – not knowing much about NATO, now I know a lot about NATO,” the president told Wolf Blitzer on CNN in April, stating that he had initially opposed NATO because he claimed they weren’t focused enough on terrorism.
“I complained about that a long time ago, and they made a change and now they do fight terrorism,” Trump added, reversing his previous position.
Despite Trump’s allegations, the US war in Afghanistan has been fought under NATO’s banner ever since 2001, and nations from across the military alliance are participating in the coalition campaign in the country. In May, NATO members France and Germany agreed to commit the organization as a whole to the coalition fighting ISIS, although the move was largely seen as symbolic.