President Trump went way off script with his controversial NATO speech last month — and even his own advisers were shocked.
Politico reported Monday that Trump trashed the advice of his own national security officials and scrapped an anticipated part of his speech that would have affirmed his commitment to supporting NATO allies.
Trump stunned world leaders in May when he turned his address at the NATO headquarters in Brussels into a blistering rebuke of nations that hadn’t paid their fair share for the international military alliance — one that Trump has often called “obsolete.”
More stunning behind the scenes, though, were changes Trump reportedly made at the last minute without consulting the people who spent weeks helping him craft the address.
According to Politico, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster all pushed for Trump to include language in his speech supporting the so-called “Article 5” provision of NATO, which says a threat to any nation in the alliance is a threat to all of them.
Trump’s team was so confident that he would stand by Article 5 in his speech that, as late as one day beforehand, a White House aide assured The New York Times it would happen.
But the advisers learned of the deletion only when Trump started talking — and never said anything to support Article 5.
It remains unclear, based on Politico’s sources, whether Trump deleted that passage on his own or whether his more far-right advisers, such as chief strategist Steve Bannon and policy aide Stephen Miller, played a part.
Either way, some members of Trump’s White House have been scrambling to assure he supports Article 5, even though he still has not said so.
McMaster and Tillerson have both publicly assured Trump’s commitment to NATO provisions.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said, “Of course we believe in Article 5.”
When pressed about how Trump has yet to say that himself, Haley replied, “I think if you asked him if he was in favor of Article 5, he would say that yes, he is.”Send a Letter to the Editor