Yesterday morning, President Trump held an impromptu press conference on the White House lawn as he was getting ready to fly to Europe for a NATO summit and other meetings. Asked about the trip, he said this:
"Well, it's going to be an interesting time in the UK, and it's certainly going to be an interesting time with NATO. NATO has not treated us fairly, but I think we'll work something out. We pay far too much and they pay far too little. . . So I have NATO, I have the UK . . . and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think?"
All day long, the media spun the president's joking remarks as being tough on our friends and easy on Putin. The media's misleading spin really exposes their anti-Trump agenda.
Why is the president being tough with our allies? Because they are not spending enough on defense. Defense against what? Russia!
While Europe and the U.S. face the same threats from radical Islamism, the only nation-state threats Europe faces come from Russia and Iran. The president is simply saying to NATO that it must stop relying on America's taxpayers for its defense.
Yes, we are allies. But allies need to fairly share burdens and investments in their mutual security.
How in the world does the media spin this as Trump being easy on Putin but tough on our allies? Trump wants Europe to get tough on Russia! And he hammered that point this morning.
During a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump expressed his frustration that Germany is spending just over 1% of its GDP on defense. At the same time, they have made a massive deal that makes them dependent on Russian energy. The president said:
"So we're supposed to protect you against Russia but they're paying billions of dollars to Russia and I think that's very in inappropriate. . . Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70% of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. So you tell me, is that appropriate?"
That is what an "America First" foreign policy looks like!
One of the reasons Germany cut this deal with Russia is that left-wing environmentalists pushed the government to phase out its nuclear power plants and coal mines. Just another example of left-wing lunacy.
Stoltenberg did concede that Trump's "tough love" is making a difference. Consider this exchange between the president and Stoltenberg:
STOLTENBERG: I agree with you that we have to make sure that our allies are investing more. The good news is that allies have started to invest more in defense. After years of cutting defense budgets, they have started to add billions to their defense budgets. And last year was the biggest increase in defense spending across Europe and Canada in that generation.
TRUMP: Why was that last year?
STOLTENBERG: It's also because of your leadership. . .
TRUMP: They won't write that, but that's okay.
STOLTENBERG: No, I have said it before, but the thing is that it really has. And your message is having an impact.
While it is true that more European states are stepping up, it happens to be the smaller states like Poland and Estonia. Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse, has delayed its planned increases in defense spending. By 2025, it hopes to reach a goal of spending 1.5% of its GDP on defense, well short of Trump's 2% goal.
And while Europe takes advantage of our defense commitment, it has imposed disproportionate tariffs against American goods.
Speaking of tariffs, true to his promise to get tough on trade, President Trump imposed an additional $20 billion in tariffs against $200 billion of Chinese imports. Beijing isn't happy, but there may be very little it can do about it.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
"China's Commerce Ministry said Wednesday that China would act with 'necessary counter-measures,' but did not repeat that the government would retaliate in commensurate fashion, as it has promptly done in the past. . . But Beijing cannot match the new proposed tariffs because China imported only about $130 billion of products from the U.S. last year. By comparison, the United States imported more than $500 billion of Chinese goods."
In other words, China kept upping the ante and Trump just called their bluff!
Vice President Mike Pence and former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl escorted Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh to Capitol Hill yesterday for his first series of meetings with key senators. Naturally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office was the first stop of the day.
McConnell has vowed to ensure that the Senate confirms Kavanaugh in time for him to take Kennedy's seat when the Supreme Court convenes in October. Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer declared yesterday, "I'm going to fight this nomination with everything I've got." So the fight is on!
By the way, as you may recall, Schumer previously demanded that the Senate delay a vote on Kennedy's replacement until next year, at which point he hopes to be Majority Leader and in a position to torpedo Trump's nominee.
Well, a recent NBC News poll found that Americans have little patience for Schumer's obstructionism -- 62% say the Senate should vote on the Kavanaugh nomination before the November elections.
Since the nomination was announced Monday night, we have received numerous messages expressing varying degrees of interest and concern about Kavanaugh's record. So I'd like to offer a few points that I hope our readers will find encouraging.
- The same vetting process that produced Justice Neil Gorsuch has also produced Judge Brett Kavanaugh. And given Gorsuch's record, I find that reassuring.
- A legal reporter with the Supreme Court news site SCOTUSblog described Kavanaugh's judicial philosophy as "conservative," adding that he has "applied principles of textualism and originalism espoused by the late Justice Antonin Scalia."
- Speaking of Scalia, as I noted yesterday, Kavanaugh once hailed Antonin Scalia as "a hero and role model." I don't think many liberal or even centrist judges would say that.
- A former Yale law professor who taught Kavanaugh wrote that he is "an avid consumer of legal scholarship. . . who prioritizes the Constitution's original meaning."
- An ideological ranking system developed by a group of political science professors determined that Kavanaugh "would have the second most conservative score on the bench if confirmed, next to Justice Clarence Thomas."
My friend Clarence Thomas is a very high bar. But if Kavanaugh is close to Gorsuch or Scalia, he will be significantly better than Anthony Kennedy.
With President Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, abortion has once again returned to the forefront of the national political debate. But while polls often show significant support for Roe v. Wade, the inconvenient truth for the left is that most American's do not fully understand the decision, which has led to a legal regime of abortion on demand.
Read more in my latest opinion piece at The Washington Examiner.