Trump team working to remove top NATO official

Two Trump transition sources told me that a representative of the transition team met late last month with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels and delivered a private but deliberate message: The incoming administration would like Stoltenberg to replace Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller. Gottemoeller, who was nominated for the post by Obama this past March, started her job in Brussels only in October and has a multi-year contract. She works for NATO, not the U.S. government.

If NATO leadership agreed to remove Gottemoeller, it would set a new precedent for U.S. government control over American officials in top NATO positions. If the NATO leadership doesn’t agree, the incoming Trump administration could work to marginalize Gottemoeller and render her ineffective. Either way, her role is set to change when the new U.S. president comes into office.

Kurt Volker, who served as U.S. ambassador to NATO at the end of the George W. Bush administration, said that though a U.S. president pushing for a NATO official to be removed is unusual, it’s part and parcel of Donald Trump’s style and a good indicator of how Trump will deal with international organizations as president.