WASHINGTON — Congress’ top two Democrats are blasted President Donald Trump Wednesday for doling out “brazen insults” against Germany while in Brussels for this year’s NATO summit.
“President Trump’s brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement. “His behavior this morning is another profoundly disturbing signal that the president is more loyal to [Russian President Vladimir Putin] than to our NATO allies.”
The statement comes after President Donald Trump took a combative stance during a meeting with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg over Germany signing energy contracts with Russia.
“If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia,” Trump said. “They’re getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia. I think it’s something that NATO has to look at. I think it’s very inappropriate.”
Stoltenberg bristled at the suggestion and said that there are disagreements over the issue, but that NATO endures because the military alliance is able to look past differences in order to maintain their security objections.
“How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want to protect them against? Trump shot back. “You’re just making Russia richer.”
Trump met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later that day and said he raised his concerns, but otherwise cast the meeting as positive.
The president’s criticism appears rooted in the Nord Stream 2, an 800-mile oil pipeline from Russia to Germany, which is expected to increase the amount of oil that Russia can provide Germany.
It opens a new line of attack for the president, who has previously blasted NATO allies for not paying as much as the U.S. for their involvement in the alliance.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) declined to question remarks publicly during a press conference Wednesday, saying he believes “ we shouldn’t be criticizing our president while he’s overseas,” but emphasized the importance of NATO.
“NATO is indispensable,” Ryan said, noting that the House would be issuing a resolution saying as much later that day. “It’s as important today as it’s ever has been.”
Ryan added that he similarly has concerns over Nordstream 2 as well as the amount that Germany is paying into NATO.
Trump arrived in Brussels Tuesday as part of a week-long trip to Europe.
In addition to the summit, Trump is scheduled to visit the United Kingdom and, more controversially, hold meetings Putin in Helsinki, Finland that will include a one-on-one discussion.
Schumer and Pelosi took issue with the meeting, seemingly casting doubt that the president will address Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, something the intelligence community has widely concluded as a fact but has nevertheless been occasionally questioned by Trump.
“If the president leaves the Putin meeting without ironclad assurances and concrete steps toward a full cessation of Russian attacks on our democracy, this meeting will not only be a failure – it will be a grave step backward for the future of the international order and global security,” the statement reads. “A successful meeting means real action, now.”