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Morning Joe Guest Pushes Against Trump Criticism

MSNBC’s Morning Joe often bashes President Donald Trump, but occasionally the show brings a guest who adds nuance to the chorus of Trump naysayers.

On Wednesday morning, guest Fred Kempe, president and CEO of The Atlantic Council, disagreed with anti-Trump panelist Nick Burns and credited Trump for bolstering NATO spending on the eve of its 70th anniversary.

Burns was introduced by MSNBC host Willie Geist and took the occasion to continue his anti-Trump rhetoric, attacking the president’s foreign policy on NATO.

Kempe offered a balanced perspective.

“Well, Nick’s a dear friend, and I respect him a lot on this,” Kempe said. “He and Doug, who wrote this [anti-Trump Washington Post op-ed] piece, are both members of The Atlantic Council board, but I actually disagree with him. I think the president has done NATO a favor by focussing a real debate on NATO, and I don’t think we’d be all rallying around NATO and its importance, the importance of allies to the United States, had he not been a president who has raised more questions about NATO than any previous president. And raised questions about whether we would come to the collective defense.

“[NATO Secretary General Jens] Stoltenberg is the first leader of any multilateral organization to speak to a joint session of Congress … Trump has been almost an anecdote to the complacency around NATO, and if you look at on the ground in Europe, NATO defense spending in Europe is up 40 percent in the Trump presidency. We have a new brigade there. We haven’t moved a tank out since 2013. We’ve got defensive weapons from Ukraine we never could get during the Obama administration. So is it troubling the way Trump has talked about NATO and thought about NATO? Yes, but has it stirred a debate, that on balance, and this is in answer to your question, has been positive for NATO? I think it has.”