Former GOP officials criticize Trump’s NATO approach
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Republicans who served in previous administrations were taken aback by President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE's approach to NATO, with a former national intelligence director and a former GOP senator on Sunday expressing "disappointment" and warning the president "overplayed his hand" in meetings over the weekend.

John Negroponte, who served as the first director of national intelligence under President George W. Bush, criticized President Trump's meeting with NATO leaders, calling it a "disappointment."

"He didn't come out with an absolutely categorical commitment to the security of the NATO countries — an attack on one is an attack on all under Article 5 of the NATO charter," Negroponte told radio host John Catsimatidis. "So I think that was a disappointment. It was to me. I'm sure it was to the Europeans."


Trump berated NATO leaders on Thursday, telling them that their countries would have to amp up defense spending to meet their obligations under NATO. The organization agreed in 2014 that each country should aim to spend two percent of its GDP on defense by 2024.

Trump has frequently argued that the U.S. is shouldering an unfair burden with NATO and, as a presidential candidate, called the alliance "obsolete," though he pivoted away from that position last month.

Nevertheless, in his speech to NATO leaders, Trump did not commit to the mutual defense principle — the notion that an attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all. 

"Stress the friendship, stress the relationship, stress the commitment to each other's security, but also make the point, which has been made over the years, that everybody should pay their fair share," Negroponte said. "I think it was a question of emphasis and I think he got the emphasis wrong."

Former Sen. Al D'Amato (R-N.Y.), also speaking to Catsimatidis, was softer in his criticism of Trump's approach to NATO, but said that the president may have been too forthright in his pressure on treaty members.

"I don't know if the president should have been as public in his chastising of the NATO members. There's a way to do it," D'Amato told Catsimatidis. "It was pretty strong; I guess he feels strongly about it."

"And certainly they have to meet their financial obligations if we're going to maintain our presence, our strength and the billions of dollars we spend — tens of billions of dollars annually — supporting NATO."

He added, "The second part [of the trip] was not nearly as strong as it could have been … It was almost too strong in terms of demands the president made. You can make those demands in private. You don't have to do it publicly. That just embarrasses people, and it gets people angry. I think he overplayed his hand."