President Donald Trump repeatedly discussed pulling the United States out of NATO, the North American-European military alliance formed 70 years ago to deter Russian aggression, The New York Times reports.
The Times reported that Trump “suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO” repeatedly throughout 2018, privately telling senior administration officials that he wanted to withdraw from the alliance.
During last summer’s NATO summit, Trump told his top national security officials that he “did not see the point” of keeping the alliance and suggested it was a “drain” on the US, The Times reported.
The report notes that Trump’s then-Defense Secretary James Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton “scrambled to keep American strategy on track without mention of a withdrawal that would drastically reduce Washington’s influence in Europe and could embolden Russia for decades.”
Move would give Putin a huge win:
Michele Flournoy, who served as under secretary of defense under President Obama, said withdrawing from NATO “would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests.”
“It would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history,” she added. “And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of.”
Retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, told The Times that “even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin.”
FBI questioned if Trump was acting as Russian agent:
The report comes after The Times reported last week that the FBI began to investigate whether Trump was working for the Russian government after he fired FBI Director James Comey in 2017.
“Law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests,” The Times reported at the time. “The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.”
The Washington Post later reported that Trump went to great lengths to conceal his meetings with Putin since taking office.
"President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials," The Post reported.