Washington Post — By Michael Birnbaum and Griff Witte February 18 at 7:45 AM
MUNICH — Amid global anxiety about President Trump’s approach to world affairs, U.S. officials had a message to a gathering of Europe’s foreign policy elite this weekend: Pay no attention to the man tweeting behind the curtain.
U.S. lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — and top national security officials in the Trump administration offered the same advice publicly and privately, often clashing with Trump’s Twitter stream: The United States remains staunchly committed to its European allies, is furious with the Kremlin about election interference and isn’t contemplating a preemptive strike on North Korea to halt its nuclear program.
But Trump himself engaged in a running counterpoint to the message, taking aim on social media at his own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, because he “forgot” on Saturday to tell the Munich Security Conference that the results of the 2016 election weren’t affected by Russian interference, a conclusion that is not supported by U.S. intelligence agencies. They say they will probably never be able to determine whether the Russian involvement swung the election toward Trump.
The determination to ignore Trump’s foreign policy tweets has been bipartisan.
“There is a lot more support for continuing our past policies than it might appear from some of the statements,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told an audience on Sunday that was made up mostly of Europe’s foreign policy elite. “The unanimity comes from those folks who are actually operationalizing policy.”
“The values are the same, the relationships are the same,” said Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). “What you do see is this administration willing to put pressure upon the systems.”
The question of whom they should believe — the president or his advisers — has befuddled European officials. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel confessed Saturday that he didn’t know where to look to understand America.
“Is it deeds? Is it words? Is it tweets?” he asked.
He said he was not sure whether he could recognize the United States.
Away from the glare of television cameras, many European diplomats and policymakers echoed the same concerns. One diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid provoking Trump, asked whether policymakers like McMaster who adhere largely to traditional U.S. foreign policy positions were falling into the same trap as Germany’s elite during Hitler’s rise, when they continued to serve in government in the name of protecting their nation.
The answer, the diplomat said, might be found following “nuclear war,” which he feared could be provoked by Trump administration’s hawkish approach to North Korea.
Testing those lines, McMaster offered a starkly different view of the world from that of his boss, saying that the “evidence is now incontrovertible” that Russia intervened in the U.S. political system. Trump has downplayed Russian involvement, saying that he believes the reassurances of Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Kremlin was not involved in the election.
Link to Washington Post article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/top-us-officials-tell-the-world-to-ignore-trumps-tweets/2018/02/18/bc605236-14a2-11e8-942d-16a950029788_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_munich-trump-10am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.fde2e805d2c7