'They didn't know it had been removed': Trump's big NATO speech reportedly blindsided his own national security team

President Donald Trump drew backlash last month after he did not explicitly endorse Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's founding document during his summit with NATO allies in Brussels. And it appears his own national security team was blindsided by it.

The article, known as the collective-defense clause, stipulates that an attack on any member is an attack on all. It was invoked for the first time in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Five sources told Politico on Monday that US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, national security adviser HR McMaster, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson worked with Trump on the speech for weeks and pushed hard for the Article 5 language to be included after viewing later drafts in which it had been taken out.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's trip to Belgium

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U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the Brussels Airport, in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the Brussels Airport, in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel (R) review troops upon arriving at the Brussels Airport, in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel review troops upon arriving at the Brussels Airport, in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
First lady Melania Trump waves from the motorcade as she sits next to U.S. President Donald Trump at the Brussels Airport in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Belgian troops stand at attention as U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the Brussels Airport, in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (2ndL) and first lady Melania Trump (R) pose with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium at the Palace in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
U.S. President Donald Trump (2ndL) and first lady Melania Trump (R) pose with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium at the Palace in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) walks with King Philippe of Belgium at the Palace in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
U.S. President Donald Trump and his delegation meet Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
(L-R) U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump and National security adviser H.R. McMaster eat Belgian chocolate during their meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
European Council President Donald Tusk (L) speaks to US President Donald Trump (R) after welcoming him at EU headquarters, as part of the NATO meeting, in Brussels, on May 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) walks with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) arrives for his meeting with President of the European Council Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (neither pictured) at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini before their meeting at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk take their seats before their meeting at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wait the arrival of French President Emmanuel Macron (unseen) before a lunch ahead of a NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. first lady Melania Trump greets French President Emmanuel Macron as President Donald Trump (C) looks on before a lunch ahead of a NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands before a lunch ahead of a NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
From L-R, Belgium's King Philippe, U.S. President Donald Trump, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belgian's Prime Minister Charles Michel gather with NATO member leaders to pose for a family picture before the start of their summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks beside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the start of the NATO summit at their new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017.REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May react during a ceremony at the new NATO headquarters before the start of a summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NATO Secretary General Jens Stolenberg (L), U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (R) attend a ceremony at the new NATO headquarters before the start of a summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
NATO country leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump (L) Canada's Prime Minster Justin Trudeau (L Top) and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (R) react during an aerial fly-pass at the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
U.S President Donald Trump (C) follows Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May as NATO member leaders gather before the start of their summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
U.S President Donald Trump (C) takes his place as NATO member leaders gather before the start of their summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) is flanked by British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during in a working dinner meeting at the NATO headquarters during a NATO summit of heads of state and government in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Matt Dunham/Pool
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Lower-level members of Trump's national security team, meanwhile, were completely blindsided, according to the report.

"There was a fully coordinated other speech everybody else had worked on" — and it wasn't the one Trump gave, a White House official told Politico. Another national security source told Politico that "they [the team] didn't know it had been removed."

"It was only upon delivery," the person said.

SEE ALSO: Trump takes to Twitter to call out Germany for 'very bad' trade and spending policies

Trump said in his speech that the US would "never forsake the friends that stood by our side" in the aftermath of 9/11. But he did not explicitly endorse Article 5, as every US president since Harry S. Truman has when speaking outside NATO headquarters.

Instead, Trump used the speech largely to lecture representatives from nearly two dozen member countries for not meeting their "financial obligations" to increase defense spending to 2% of their gross domestic product.

It is unclear whether Trump deleted the line of his own volition, or advisers such as Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller — both of whom view NATO with deep skepticism — pressured him to take it out.

But it is indicative of how much influence the anti-globalist faction of the White House — led by former Breitbart chairman Bannon — has over Trump, who has shown a willingness to discard the advice of his more politically experienced advisers in favor of guidance from a small group of unseasoned but loyal confidantes.

SEE ALSO: President Trump acted like a 'drunk tourist' during first foreign trip: report

NSC spokesman Michael Anton did not dispute the account, telling Politico that Trump's presence at the summit was an inherent show of support for Article 5.

"His continued effort to secure greater defense commitments from other nations is making our alliance stronger," Anton said.

Anton appears to have been echoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who told reporters last month that Trump did not need to explicitly endorse the collective-defense clause in his speech because "the entire ceremony was called an Article 5 dedication."

'Putin will be thrilled'

Trump's omission left current and former NATO officials reeling, with many speculating that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be overjoyed by it.

"Putin will be thrilled at Trump's refusal to endorse Article 5," Tom Wright, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe and a fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution, said at the time. "Unimaginable under any other president."

SEE ALSO: After summits with Trump, Merkel says Europe must take fate into own hands

Nicholas Burns, the US ambassador to NATO under President George W. Bush, said in an interview last month that it was "a major mistake" for Trump to not "reaffirm publicly and explicitly" the US's Article 5 commitment to NATO.

"I was the US ambassador to NATO on 9/11 and remain grateful for the unstinting support given to America by our European allies and Canada," Burns said. "Trump is not acting like the leader of the West that all US presidents before him have been dating back to Truman."

NATO was founded in 1949 as Europe's answer to the Soviet Union, and the 28-member alliance continues to serve largely as a counterweight to Russia's ambitions in eastern Europe.

Several post-Soviet states, including Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, are now NATO members. Montenegro will become a member in June.

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L-R, Belgium's King Philippe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May react during an aerial fly-pass at the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
U.S. President Donald Trump jokes with French President Emmanuel Macron about their handshakes in front of NATO leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (2ndR) and Belgium King Philippe (L), at the start of the NATO summit at their new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
From 2ndL, Belgium's King Philippe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, U.S. President Donald Trump, Montenegro's Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite, Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Dutch Prime Minster Mark Rutte walk together inside the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May react during a ceremony at the new NATO headquarters before the start of a summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Turkey's first lady Emine Erdogan, Iceland's Thora Margret Baldvinsdottir, France's first lady Brigitte Trogneux, U.S. first lady Melania Trump, Slovenia's Mojca Stropnik, Bulgaria's Desislava Radeva, Belgium's Amelie Derbaudrenghien and Norway's Ingrid Schulerud- Stoltenberg and Luxembourg's Gauthier Destenay visit the Magritte Museum in Brussels, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
U.S. President Donald Trump walks beside Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at the start of the NATO summit at their new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (2ndR) walk past Britain's Prime Minster Theresa May before the start of the NATO summit at their new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) walks past Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L), Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (2ndL) and other leaders at the start of the NATO summit at their new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Putin said on Friday that Russia "will think about how to eliminate this threat" if Sweden joins NATO.

"One of Putin's aims for the past 15 years has been to erode the effectiveness of NATO and eventually to undermine it," said Mark Kramer, program director for the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. "Little did he realize that he would eventually have a US president who would eagerly assist this goal."

"Some of Trump's advisers such as James Mattis and H. R. McMaster are strong supporters of NATO, but Trump himself clearly is not,' Kramer continued. "He praises tyrants in Saudi Arabia but can do nothing other than scold democratic allies in NATO."

Trump's speech at the NATO summit came on the heels of his trip to the Middle East, where he told Arab leaders he was "not here to lecture" them about human rights.

Kramer added that he doesn't "rule out" the possibility that Trump has hastened NATO's demise.

"In light of what Trump has said and done, no leader of a NATO country should have any confidence that he would fulfill Article 5 if, say, Estonia were to come under attack from Russia," he said. "Trump's successors might be able to rebuild confidence in the U.S. commitment to NATO, but I don't rule out that the alliance will collapse before Trump leaves office. Putin's goal will have been achieved."

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