By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Former Secretary of State John Kerry ripped America's sitting chief executive Wednesday, calling President Donald Trump's criticisms of NATO and Germany "strange" and "counterproductive."
"It was disgraceful, destructive, and flies in the face of the actual interests of the United States of America," Kerry said in a statement released shortly after Trump's haranguing of the transatlantic alliance and singling out of Germany during a summit in Brussels.
During the meeting of the 29-member alliance Trump suggested Germany is "totally controlled" and "captive to Russia," pointing to its use of Moscow's fossil fuels.
"I think it's very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you're supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia," Trump said. "Why are countries in NATO, namely Germany, having a large percentage of their energy needs paid to Russia and taken care of by Russia?"
He later reiterated his criticism on Twitter.
Trump also took aim at NATO members’ defense spending, calling on allies to not only meet the minimum goal of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense, but urging them to double that to a total of 4 percent.
Only five NATO members have met the 2 percent benchmark to date, including the U.S. NATO expects the number of countries that are meeting the guideline to rise to eight this year, and expects the number to rise to 15 by 2024.
Trump, however, sent a tweet from the summit insisting members "must" meet the goal, set in 2014, "IMMEDIATELY."
In repeatedly sending such pointed barbs at NATO and Germany, Kerry said Trump "is steadily destroying our reputation in the world. He is undermining our interests. He diminishes alliances we built to safeguard an economic and strategic force that has allowed millions of people to live in freedom.
"There's a time, place, and manner for raising issues with allies, and trashing them on camera in a way that calls into question the alliance itself isn't it," the former top diplomat said. "Enough. This isn't good for the United States and there are people across the aisle -- as the Senate vote yesterday clearly showed -- who know it and need to say it.
Kerry was referring to Tuesday's Senate vote that overwhelming saw the chamber voice its support for NATO amid Trump's continued criticisms.
He was not alone in questioning Trump's treatment of America's closest allies.
While refraining from directly criticizing the president, House Speaker Paul Ryan, the chamber's top ranking Republican, told ABC News "NATO is indispensable."