U.S. Rep. Tom Reed on Wednesday said he supported President Donald Trump’s apparent antagonistic actions toward European leaders as North Atlantic Treaty Organization meetings kicked off Wednesday in Brussels.
“I appreciate the president bringing his disruptive style to the NATO meeting,” Reed, R-Corning, told reporters during his weekly media call. It was meant to “send a message of a fair share type relationship with our NATO allies,” he added.
Trump insulted Germany at the opening NATO meeting by saying the country was controlled by Russia and chastised other NATO leaders for not paying their fair share of the cost of defending Europe. He suggested NATO allies commit to double the 2 percent GDP spending goal on defense they set for 2024.
Because the president was expected to belittle NATO leaders with his antagonistic style of negotiating, the Senate voted before the Brussels meetings to affirm the U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance.
Reed downplayed the president’s comments and likened the NATO meetings to “family disagreements.” He said the president was “committed to preserving the NATO alliance” but wanted European countries to pay more for their defense.
Reed was an early Trump supporter in the presidential primaries in 2016 and a member of the Trump transition team. He has rarely criticized the president.
Reed said he agrees that “Russia is a threat,” but it is also a key in Syria and the Middle East and the refugee problem in Europe.
Other politicians were more critical of the president’s behavior at NATO meetings. Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement describing Trump’s “brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany,” as “an embarrassment.”
“His behavior this morning is another profoundly disturbing signal that the president is more loyal to President (Vladimir) Putin than to our NATO allies,” they wrote.
Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, also criticized Trump’s rhetoric.
“I do believe everybody should get to 2 percent quickly, but the NATO alliance is something that’s very important to the United States and our citizenry, and things that are said to try and create instability, all that it does is strengthen Putin,” Corker said, describing concerns “about conciliatory things that could occur in Helsinki” when Trump sits down with the Russian president.
What advice would he give to Trump in his face-to-face meeting next week with Putin?
Reed said he’d tell the president to “tell Russia we don’t appreciate the aggressiveness we see out of Russia and the adversarial relations including the meddling in the U.S. elections and the Ukraine.”
Reed added: “I hope the president can initiate a dialogue that can be positive. I have great concerns about Russia. They are still a world superpower and we have common interests in Syria, Iran and North Korea.”
REED ALSO touted congressional and Trump administration deregulation efforts that have resulted in removing 22 regulations for every new one.
Cutting regulations, he said, has saved U.S. businesses and local governments $8.1 billion over the past year and could increase another $10 billion this year.
“The deregulation agenda is promoting and creating jobs not only here in the district, but in the country,” Reed said.
Reed cited no sources for his statements on deregulatory savings or jobs created due to federal regulations being overturned.
Some companies and municipalities “spend more time on paperwork” than getting things done, he said, calling it “filling out paperwork for the sense of paperwork.”
The 2017 Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to kill some regulations “reverses the status quo the Obama Administration had committed itself to.”
Reed said reasonable regulations are ones that strike a balance that allows for growth while protecting the environment and providing safe neighborhoods.