- Trump, a long-time critic of NATO, suggested the U.S. shouldn’t help a country that doesn’t pay enough for defense
- White House spokesperson Andrew Bates called Trump’s comments “appalling and unhinged”
- Bates said President Joe Biden had resotred U.S. alliances and will continue to “bolster American leadership”
The White House condemned Former President Donald Trump for suggesting the U.S. should not protect a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) country that didn’t pay enough for defense in case of a Russian invasion.
“Thanks to President Biden’s experienced leadership, NATO is now the largest and most vital it has ever been,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in the statement Saturday. “Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged – and it endangers American national security, global stability, and our economy at home.”
Biden has helped restore U.S. alliances since his presidential term began in 2021, Bates said.
“Rather than calling for wars and promoting deranged chaos, President Biden will continue to bolster American leadership and stand up for our national security interests – not against them,” he said in the statement.
Trump was speaking to supporters at a rally in South Carolina on Saturday when he recounted an exchange he had with the leader of a “big country” about a Russian invasion.
When the leader asked if they would be protected if Russia attacked, Trump responded saying the U.S. government would not protect the bloc if they didn’t pay their fair share in defense spending, he told the crowd at the rally.
“I said: ‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?'” Trump recalled. “No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills,” he added.
Trump has long been a critic of NATO, a military alliance of 29 European and two North American countries, and has repeatedly complained about the U.S. having to pay more than it should.
A provision in NATO’s statute also says it must defend any member in the event of an attack.
French European Commissioner Thierry Breton, who was present at a meeting with Trump and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in 2020, said Trump warned that the U.S. would not come to the EU’s aid if it was attacked.
“You need to understand that if Europe is under attack we will never come to help you and to support you,” Trump said, according to Breton’s account.
“By the way, NATO is dead, and we will leave, we will quit NATO,” Trump added, according to Breton. “And he added, ‘and by the way, you owe me $400 billion, because you didn’t pay, you Germans, what you had to pay for defense.'”