Romney calls Trump plan to withdraw troops from Germany a “grave error”

WashingtonExaminer reports Sen. Mitt Romney called President Trump’s plan to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Germany a “grave error.”

The Utah Republican unleashed a scathing complaint after Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced on Wednesday that the Pentagon would start the process of pulling some 11,900 troops out of the country “within weeks.”

“The plan outlined by the administration today to remove thousands of U.S. troops from Germany is a grave error,” Romney said in a statement. “It is a slap in the face at a friend and ally when we should instead be drawing closer in our mutual commitment to deter Russian and Chinese aggression.”

He added: “And it is a gift to Russia coming at a time when we just have learned of its support for the Taliban and reports of bounties on killing American troops. The move may temporarily play well in domestic politics, but its consequences will be lasting and harmful to American interests.”

Romney has emerged as Trump’s most consistent critic among Republicans in the Senate. Elected in 2018, Romney has hit back on some aspects of Trump’s foreign policy, including when the president announced a withdrawal of troops from Syria, a move Romney derided as a “betrayal” of Kurdish allies in the region. After Trump was impeached by the House late last year, Romney became the first senator in U.S. history to vote to convict a president from his own party. However, Trump was acquitted by the GOP-controlled Senate.

Romney was not alone among Republicans in his criticism of Wednesday’s troop announcement. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska also released a statement critical of the move, which he called “weak.”

“The President’s lack of strategic understanding of this issue increases our response time and hinders the important deterrent work our servicemen and women are doing,” Sasse said. “Maintaining forward presence is cheaper for our taxpayers and safer for our troops. Chairman Xi and Vladimir Putin are reckless, and this withdrawal will only embolden them. We should be leading our allies against China and Russia, not abandoning them. Withdrawal is weak.”