During a private meeting at the White House in late April, Trump was discussing trade with French President Emmanuel Macron. At one point, he asked Macron, “Why don’t you leave the E.U.?” and said that if France exited the union, Trump would offer it a bilateral trade deal with better terms than the E.U. as a whole gets from the United States, according to two European officials. The White House did not dispute the officials’ account, but declined to comment.

Let’s set aside for a moment the point that Trump’s proposal reveals a basic lack of understanding of Macron’s views and those of the people who elected him. This is an instance of the president of the United States offering an incentive to dismantle an organization of America’s allies, against stated U.S. government policy.