Preet Bharara, a former federal prosecutor, appears to be under the impression that President Donald Trump would be committing an impeachable offense by withdrawing the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Bharara on Monday published a Twitter post in response to a New York Times report that Trump, over the course of 2018, discussed with senior White House officials the possibility of taking the U.S. out of NATO.
Administration officials, according to the report, believed the president was kidding at first, but realized he was serious after bringing the subject up numerous times throughout the year.
If true: Trump should immediately and publicly state his apparent wish to withdraw from NATO so he can be promptly impeached, convicted, and removed from office.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) January 15, 2019
“If true: Trump should immediately and publicly state his apparent wish to withdraw from NATO so he can be promptly impeached, convicted, and removed from office,” Bharara wrote.
If accurate, such comments would likely not come as too much of a surprise for the public.
The president has openly questioned NATO’s current relevance and has long complained that other NATO members are making the U.S. pay the tab by not paying their fair share on defense, criticism he has leveled since he was a 2016 presidential candidate.
“Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting – NATO. The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer,” the president tweeted in July before joining NATO’s annual summit in July last year.
Trump has bemoaned a number of other international agreements, with Chinese trade and NAFTA being chief among them.
However, at the conclusion of the two-day NATO summit, Trump had a slightly more positive view.
He declared victory, saying he successfully pressured other members to spend more on national defense.
Trump even reaffirmed his commitment to the alliance, explaining that while he believed he had the authority to do so, he did not feel it necessary to walk away.
It’s not immediately clear what Bharara, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York before Trump fired him in March 2017, believes is an impeachable offense.
U.S. withdrawal from NATO would destabilize the 70-year alliance, formed in 1949 as a means to counter Russian aggression.
Just the discussion of such a move also feeds the narrative of Trump-Russia collusion conspiracies.
Bharara is not the only one who believes a foreign policy decision — like pulling out of NATO — could warrant presidential impeachment.
At least one Democratic lawmaker seemed to agree.
During a CNN interview on Tuesday morning, California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier said “profound” action would need to be taken if Trump attempted to withdraw from the alliance.
“It had better be an idle threat from the president, because I think that act would be so destructive to our country and to our ability to protect the national security of every American that it would be a ground for some profound effort by our part, whether it is impeachment or the 25th Amendment,” Speier stated.
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