At a Saturday rally in Conway, South Carolina, Trump, a NATO critic, said that the alliance was “busted” until his presidency. Trump also recounted a discussion with an unspecified “president of a big country,” specifically claiming he would support a Russian attack against members that didn’t pay enough for defense spending.
“No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want,” Trump, who has, ironically, been scrutinized for not paying bills, said.
It’s unclear if the scenario occurred.
Trump’s remarks ignore Article 5 of the NATO agreement, which states that each of the alliance members must unite against an opposing country if one member country is attacked.
Despite widespread backlash against Trump, Rubio explained and defended Trump’s remarks on behalf of the former president during his interview with Tapper.
“What he’s basically saying is, if you see the comments, he said NATO was broke or busted until he took over because people weren’t paying their dues, and then he told the story about how he used leverage to get people to step up to the plate and become more active in NATO,” Rubio said.
“He’s not the first American president, in fact, virtually every American at some point in some way has complained about other countries and NATO not doing enough.”