Five issues where Trump shows flexibility – The Hill
And as the president-elect builds his Cabinet, old and new allies may reshape some of his domestic and foreign policy ideas.
Here are five issues where Trump may be flexible:
As a candidate, Trump repeatedly advocated for rethinking U.S. alliances and treaties, complaining that the country too often foots the bill for its allies.
But since Election Day, there have been signals that the president-elect is more willing to embrace the country’s long-standing relationships.During the campaign, Trump said that NATO is “obsolete” and criticized other member nations for not contributing their fair share to the alliance.
But President Obama said that in his talks with the president-elect, Trump said he wanted to preserve many of the country’s alliances, including NATO.
“In my conversation with the president-elect, he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships. And so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Transatlantic Alliance,” Obama told reporters earlier this month before setting off on an international trip.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg echoed that assessment following his own conversation with Trump last week over the phone.
“The President-elect and the Secretary General both underlined NATO’s enduring importance, and discussed how NATO is adapting to the new security environment, including to counter the threat of terrorism,” a statement from NATO said.
And Trump also seems to be reconsidering his threat to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea if the country doesn’t contribute more to its own defense.
“President-elect Trump said he totally agreed with President Park’s ideas, including on the North Korean problem,” South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s office said in a statement after the two spoke.
“Mentioning the heightened instability in the North, he continued to say that the United States would stand shoulder to shoulder with Korea to the end, adding that the alliance would remain unwavering.”
On the campaign trail, Trump not only voiced support for torture, but said in a GOP debate that the U.S. should go “tougher than waterboarding” to get information.
“Can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we’re having a hard problem with waterboarding?” Trump said. “We should go for waterboarding, and we should go tougher than waterboarding.”
The comments drew fierce pushback from some military figures who threatened to disobey such orders from the commander in chief.
Sen. John McCainJohn McCainFive issues where Trump shows flexibility Trump’s wrong to pick Bannon or Sessions for anything Trump’s Cabinet begins to take shape MORE (R-Ariz.), who was a prisoner of war and chairs the Armed Services Committee, spoke out on the issue last week.
“I don’t give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do … we will not waterboard,” McCain said at the Halifax International Security Forum.
Trump told the New York Times in a meeting with reporters and editors this week that he had been discussing the issue with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.
“He said, ‘I’ve never found it to be useful,'” Trump recalled.
Mattis, whom Trump is considering for Defense secretary, said he found more value in building trust and rewarding cooperation with suspected terrorists, according to Trump.
“I was very impressed by that answer,” Trump said. “[Torture is] not going to make the kind of difference that a lot of people are thinking.”