Report: Trump Told Hollande That France can Continue Protecting NATO

President Donald Trump, Jan. 27, 2017President Donald Trump spent much of a recent phone call with French President Francois Hollande veering off into rants about the U.S. getting shaken down by other countries, according to a senior official with knowledge of the call, creating an awkward interaction with a critical U.S. ally.

While the Hollande call on Jan. 28 did touch on pressing matters between the two countries — namely the fight against the Islamic State — Trump also used the exchange to vent about his personal fixations, including his belief that the United States is being taken advantage of by China and by international bodies like NATO, the official said.

At one point, Trump declared that the French can continue protecting NATO, but that the U.S. “wants our money back,” the official said, adding that Trump seemed to be “obsessing over money.”

“It was a difficult conversation, because he talks like he’s speaking publicly,” the official said. “It’s not the usual way heads of state speak to each other. He speaks with slogans and the conversation was not completely organized….”

A member of the National Security Council also pushed back against the senior official’s assessment of the Hollande call.

This is mischaracterization due to the nature of the call,” said an NSC communications aide. “They did discuss the issue of countries meeting their defense commitments under NATO. They agreed that was important that countries meet their goals.” (France is among the NATO members who does not meet the target of 2 percent of GDP to be contributed to the alliance’s defense.)

The spokesperson also did not elaborate on why Trump brought up the topic of China with the French president.

Image: President Donald Trump, Jan. 27, 2017 (photo: Department of Defense/USAF Sgt. Jette Carr)