Biden on Trump’s NATO Comments: ‘Shameful’ and ‘Un-American’

Biden on Trump’s NATO Comments: ‘Shameful’ and ‘Un-American’

President Joe Biden launched a cutting political attack on Donald Trump from the White House Tuesday, calling Trump’s invitation to Russia to attack European allies “dumb, shameful, dangerous” and ”un-American.”

It was one the starkest rebukes Biden has made of his predecessor and showed Biden sharpening his critique of Trump as the presidential campaign kicks into gear.  Biden spoke to reporters from a lectern set up below a portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the White House’s State Dining Room, soon after the House Republican leadership said it would refuse to take up the $95 billion emergency defense spending bill that passed the Senate and included $60 billion for Ukraine.

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Trump, who hasn’t held office for three years but has maintained a strong hold on Republicans in Congress, has been vocal in his opposition to sending Ukraine more funding. Last month, Trump told House Republicans not to sign onto a bipartisan deal for Ukraine and Israel funding that included adding Border Patrol agents and immigration officials to address the influx of migrants at the Southwest Border. Trump recently said Ukraine funding should come with “strings” attached. At a rally in Conway, South Carolina, on Saturday, Trump said that, while president, he had told a leader of a “big” country in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that if they didn’t spend more on their own defense, he would tell Russia “to do whatever they hell they want.” 

Biden on Tuesday said that for Trump “principles never matter, everything is transactional” and compared Trump to a mob boss demanding money for protection. “When he looks at NATO, he doesn’t see the alliance that protects America and the world, he sees a protection racket,” Biden said. “Can you imagine a former President of the United States saying that? The whole world heard it. The worst thing is, he means it.

“No other president in our history has ever bowed down to a Russian dictator,” Biden continued. “Well, let me say this as clearly as I can: I never will. For God’s sake, it’s dumb, it’s shameful, it’s dangerous, it’s un-American.”

Biden emphasized that most of the money in the Senate bill would go to U.S. arms factories and workers building ammunition and equipment to replenish U.S. stocks when equipment is sent to Ukraine. He highlighted a handful of states considered battlegrounds in this year’s elections that have munitions factories like Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as Arizona, where Patriot missiles are built. He also name-checked Texas, as well as Alabama, where Javelin shoulder-fired rocket launchers are produced.

Countries within NATO have long agreed to come to each other’s defense if one is attacked. In 2006, each country in NATO made a commitment to spend 2% of its GDP on building up its own defense forces. While the total amount NATO countries spend on defense has climbed steadily since 2017, not all countries have met the 2% commitment, according to NATO records. In 2023, the United States is estimated to have spent 3.49% of GDP on its own defense, behind only Poland, which borders Ukraine and faces challenging threats from Russia, and spent 3.9% of its GDP. France spent 1.9% of GDP on defense in 2023, and Germany is estimated to have spent 1.57%.

Biden said he wanted to remind Trump that the only country that has ever invoked NATO’s Article Five commitments to mutual defense was the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and NATO allies joined in the fight against Al Qaeda.

“The greatest hope of all those who wish America harm is for NATO to fall apart,” Biden said. “You can be sure that they all cheered when they heard Donald Trump.”

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