On Wednesday, Trump and Stoltenberg held their first meeting in the White House, during which they discussed issues ranging from U.S. policy in Afghanistan to NATO's relations with Russian Federation.
That's what Trump - as a candidate and President-elect - had said about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on almost every occasion of his mainstream political career until Wednesday, when he suddenly told reporters he had flipped. As we previously explained, under guidelines established in 2006, defense expenditures of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance countries should amount to 2 percent of each country's gross domestic product by 2024. The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the USA must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. I think it's a lot of excess baggage.
"The Trump administration came in with a set of problems and a level of disagreement that are more hard to just put aside in the way the Bush and Obama administrations had been able to do", said Stephen Sestanovich, a Council on Foreign Relations expert who was USA ambassador-at-large for the former Soviet Union from 1997 to 2001.
But is it still too expensive, unfair, no good, and not including the right countries - and do we still have "no choice" but to change the whole agreement?
Trump has been learning a whole lot of interesting things since becoming the most powerful man in the world - that healthcare is complicated, that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, that maybe he does want to bomb Syria, that we have a few global agreements he can't scrap on a whim. "But also, maybe more important, other countries give".
Trump had been eager to improve relations with Moscow and often expressed confidence that his ability to bond with Putin would ease friction between Washington and Moscow over Russia's role in Syria and its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. "And it was very, very successfully done, as you well know".
At a press conference last July, he said: "I never met Putin, I don't know who Putin is. You can't say forget that".
On whether to pursue a tax code overhaul: After failing to rally enough Republican votes in support of the GOP replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act, Trump announced he was moving on from health care to pursue a tax code overhaul.
"I don't know Putin, " Trump said Wednesday at the joint press conference with Stoltenberg.More news: Watch today's 'Splatoon 2' and 'ARMS' Nintendo Direct right here
Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had his own foreign policy research and risk analysis staff as CEO of ExxonMobil, along with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, all sounded a tougher note on Russian Federation than the President did, pointing out the ways that Moscow works to counter USA interests around the world.
Trump's policy shifts, including his reneged promise to replace Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, are becoming a hallmark of his presidency. Number one, I think the distribution of costs has to be changed.
On intervening in Syria: Lastly, here's a bonus flip-flop that we previously covered in our running list of Trump's false or misleading claims in his first 100 days.
He added: "I do like a low-interest-rate policy, I must be honest with you".
In fact, the President himself was introspective about it last week, as he previewed military strikes in Syria - which he had not long ago railed against. Trump is reported to have said privately that Bannon "is not a team player".
Only days ago, in an interview with the Financial Times, Trump reiterated that campaign pledge.
Trump, a former real estate developer, took office in January as a government novice whose foreign policy mantra during was a vow to keep America safe and build up the US military.
Both parties support corporate tax reform, so it wouldn't require much "Art of the Deal" magic to make it happen.