Trump's advisers reportedly pulled a fast one on him to prevent another international blow-up at the NATO summit

  • Ahead of the NATO summit in July, President Donald Trump's advisers were worried about another clash like the one that took place at the G7 in early June.
  • To head off a potential showdown, White House advisers pushed NATO officials to finish a final agreement before the summit even began.
  • Trump was only shown a broad outline of the directive, rather than the full text, which officials on both sides of the Atlantic praised.

Just weeks after a G7 summit that was described as a "burning tire fire" and ended with President Donald Trump refusing to sign a communique negotiated by leaders there, Trump's advisers faced another international summit with a group for which the president had clear disdain: NATO.

Seeking to avoid another international imbroglio, Trump's advisers looked for a way to prevent him from upending the formal agreement that usually comes after intense, down-to-the-wire talks among members of the alliance.

The advisers, led by national security adviser John Bolton, instead pushed to have the agreement concluded before the president even left the US for the July 11 summit, five US and European officials told The New York Times.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg backed the plan, telling ambassadors on July 4 that the usual wrangling over the agreement — renamed as a directive rather than a communique for this summit — had to be avoided.

Stoltenberg asked NATO officials to have work finished on it by 10 p.m. Brussels time on July 6. And the officials, anxious over the potential for another Trump blow-up during the summit, agreed, according to The Times. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also wanted to avoid another showdown like that at the G7 meeting.

14 PHOTOS
President Donald Trump attends the G7 summit
See Gallery
President Donald Trump attends the G7 summit
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Sigonella Air Force Base at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Sigonella Air Force Base at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) is greeted by Italy's Chief of Protocol Riccardo Guariglia (L) as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Sigonella Air Force Base at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
US President Donald Trump arrives for the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7, the group of most industrialized economies, plus the European Union, on May 26, 2017 at the ancient Greek Theater in Taormina, Sicily. The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the US and Italy will be joined by representatives of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia during the summit from May 26 to 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Miguel MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and U.S. President Donald Trump talk as he arrives at the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
From R-L, U.S. President Donald Trump, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Britain?s Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Council President Donald Tusk arrive for a family photo during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
From L-R, European Council President Donald Tusk, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Britain?s Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pose for a family photo during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
From L-R, European Council President Donald Tusk, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe react during a family photo during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) waves beside U.S. President Donald Trump during a bilateral meeting at the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
From L-R, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, U.S. President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain?s Prime Minister Theresa May gather as they attend the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump walks during the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
(L-R) The President of the European Council Donald Tusk, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni pose after watching an Italian flying squadron as part of the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Stephane De Sakutin/Pool
G7 Summit members, President of the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (L), U.S. President Donald Trump (L Rear), Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R Rear) and President of the European Council Donald Tusk (R) attend the first working session in Taormina in Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Eliot Blondet/Pool
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Work on NATO communiques usually takes months, with discussions often coming down to the wire, as various countries use the looming deadline as leverage to advance issues important to them. In past, US leaders have reviewed last-minute revisions, as President Barack Obama did at the 2016 summit in Warsaw, The Times reported.

This year, however, Trump was only presented with a broad overview of the directive and not the details of the document that stretched 79 paragraphs over 23 pages.

Securing an agreement allowed US officials to assure the public and other leaders of the US's commitment to NATO, which has been called into question by Trump's numerous broadsides against the alliance and its members.

The fast-tracked directive met several goals. It formally invited Macedonia to join the alliance. It established an Atlantic Command to be based in Norfolk, Virginia, to oversee transatlantic traffic in the event of a conflict.

It included a pledge by NATO members to provide 30 mechanized battalions, 30 air squadrons, and 30 warships, to be ready for use in 30 days or less, by 2020 — the "Four Thirties" plan pushed by Mattis to get NATO militaries in shape and ready to deploy.

The alliance's members also completed a mobility agreement meant to allow military forces to move across national borders and bureaucratic boundaries in Europe — a problem that has plagued NATO forces on the continent.

Officials from NATO and the US praised the final product.

Jamie Shea, a NATO deputy assistant secretary general, said the agreement was "the most substantive" the alliance had reached in years.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon called the summit "extraordinarily successful" and it was "now strengthening the alliance." White House National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis echoed Pahon, saying the declaration displayed NATO's unity "across an array of tough international security challenges."

The summit was not without Trump-related turmoil however.

During the event, he reportedly told NATO leaders that their countries needed, five years ahead of time, to reach the 2%-of-GDP defense-spending level they agreed in 2014 to move toward over a decade. Or, he said, "the United States would go it alone," though he did not directly threaten to leave the alliance.

Days after the summit, and just hours after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Trump appeared to cast doubt on the collective-defense principal that undergirds the NATO alliance. He told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that he himself had asked why US troops should be used to defend Montenegro, a small Balkan country that is NATO's newest member.

"Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people," Trump said at the time. "They are very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you are in World War III."

NOW WATCH: How Russia's most advanced military equipment stacks up against NATO hardware

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Trump gives European countries 'the willies' about buying US weapons, but he's not their only concern

Read Full Story