The set of “Morning Joe” was appalled by Donald Trump’s performance at the annual NATO summit this week, suggesting Wednesday that a highly public tirade Trump launched against Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was merely a performance for Vladimir Putin.
“It’s hard not to believe he wasn’t performing for Vladimir Putin, given how kind of overt that was,” said co-host Mika Brzezinski.
The moment flew by as a bit of off-the-cuff commentary after a news report by MSNBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker. Joe Scarborough sat silently.
On Wednesday, the president, who has long been skeptical of NATO, laced into Stoltenberg at a breakfast meeting where he raised old concerns about allies not contributing enough money towards collective defense and accused Germany of being “controlled by Russia” because of its dependence on an oil and gas pipeline between the two countries.
"Germany is totally controlled by Russia," Pres. Trump tells NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg as they sit down together for bilateral breakfast ahead of Brussels summit. https://t.co/CmyplgrxzN pic.twitter.com/6RnFk8Drgs
— ABC News (@ABC) July 11, 2018
Trump berated the European leaders, who sat mostly silent, for more than two minutes. He was evidently pleased enough with the moment to share it on Twitter.
Bilateral Breakfast with NATO Secretary General in Brussels, Belgium… pic.twitter.com/l0EP3lzhCM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2018
The president has a history of confrontation at the NATO summit. During last year’s summit, Trump shoved Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic in a moment that went viral.
Did Trump just shove another NATO leader to be in the front of the group? pic.twitter.com/bL1r2auELd
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) May 25, 2017
In advance of this year’s trip, European Council President Donald Tusk offered a pointed warning for both Trump and his European counterparts.
”It is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem,” he said. ”Dear America, appreciate your allies. After all, you don’t have that many. And dear Europe, spend more on your defense because everybody expects an ally that is well-prepared and equipped.”