House Democrats urge Trump to defend NATO, be tough on Putin

By Tony Bertuca  
July 10, 2018 at 10:12 AM

House Democrats are urging President Trump to respect and defend NATO this week as he meets with America's key allies and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"President Trump must not seek to undo the work that generations of American men and women have done to help defend and uphold democratic values throughout the transatlantic region," the 44 lawmakers said in a statement.

"The signals regarding potential outcomes that are coming from this administration in advance of the President’s upcoming trip to Europe are deeply concerning," the lawmakers said.

On Monday, Trump tweeted that the United States is "spending far more on NATO than any other country" and that the situation "is not fair, nor is it acceptable." Trump also said the alliance "benefits Europe far more than it does the U.S."

Trump will arrive in Brussels today for the NATO summit.

Meanwhile, Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin on July 16 in Helsinki.

The House Democrats said that "without question, in his upcoming meetings with NATO and President Putin, President Trump must continue to affirm America's commitments to our allies, especially Article V of the Atlantic Treaty. He must not praise, condone, or abet any Russian efforts to undermine the sovereignty or democracy of any of our allies and partners. He must take a genuine stand against Russia's cyber campaigns and its efforts to interfere in our elections."

The lawmakers also urge Trump to recognize the importance of U.S. forward military presence in Europe and joint exercises with allies when it comes to deterring Russia.

"He must not weaken this posture or suspend or cancel these crucial activities, nor emulate Russian propaganda attempting to discredit them," the lawmakers said.

Trump alarmed some lawmakers when he ordered the suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea after his meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.

The Democrats also said Trump should remain aware of the fact that Russia continues to violate Ukrainian sovereignty in its occupation of Crimea.

"He must follow the law passed every year through the National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting military-to-military cooperation with President Putin," the lawmakers said. "And he must continue to stand by NATO's open door policy on the admittance of new members. The substance and symbolism of these upcoming meetings will matter. The future of the Atlantic alliance and the international order, which has helped make the world safer and more prosperous is at stake."