Marco Rubio Has ‘Zero Concern’ That Trump Said He’d Urge Russia to Attack NATO Allies – Rolling Stone
By Peter Wade
Donald Trump said that he would “encourage” Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO allies if those allies don’t contribute enough defense spending to the alliance, and Sen. Marco Rubio seems to be totally fine with that. The Republican said Sunday that he has “zero concern” about the former president’s remarks.
At a South Carolina rally on Saturday, Trump told a story where he claimed that he was speaking to a fellow leader of a NATO member country who asked him what the U.S. would do if Russia attacked them and they had not paid their share of defense spending into the alliance.
“If we don’t pay, and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?” Trump claimed the leader asked him while he was president.
“No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay,” Trump said he responded.
Trump: One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, Well, sir, if we don't pay and were attacked by Russia, will you protect us? I said.. No I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. pic.twitter.com/2RPVDFZIXy
During an appearance the next day on CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Rubio for his thoughts on Trump’s comments. Rubio, Tapper noted, recently applauded the Senate passage of bipartisan legislation he sponsored with Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine that prevents any president from withdrawing from NATO without congressional consent.
“You just pushed and got legislation to require the advice and consent of the Senate or an act of Congress before any president could suspend, terminate, or withdraw any U.S. membership from NATO,” Tapper said to Rubio before playing Trump’s remarks.
“You’ve endorsed Donald Trump. Are you comfortable with him suggesting that he wouldn’t defend NATO countries and, actually, he would invite [President Vladimir] Putin and Russia to invade them?” Tapper asked.
"Well, that's not what happened … he was telling a story … he doesn't talk like a traditional politician … I have zero concern" — Marco Rubio *defends* Trump saying that he'd encourage Russian to attack NATO countries pic.twitter.com/huImRklDj9
“Well, that’s not what happened, and that’s not how I view that statement. He was talking about a story that… happened in the past,” Rubio said. “By the way, Donald Trump was president, and he didn’t pull us out of NATO. In fact, American troops were stationed throughout Europe as they are today.”
Rubio continued to justify Trump’s remarks, claiming the former president was merely “telling a story” and that he “doesn’t talk like a traditional politician.”
“You think people would’ve figured it out by now,” the senator added. “What he’s basically saying is… NATO was broke or busted until he took over because people weren’t paying their dues, and then he told a story of how he used leverage to make people step up to the plate and become more active in NATO… Virtually every American president at some point in some way has complained about other countries in NATO not doing enough. Trump’s just the first one to express it in these terms.”
“I have zero concern,” Rubio concluded.
While Rubio may not be concerned by Trump’s remarks, the White House and plenty of top western officials are.
“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,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. “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.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg released a written statement that said in part, “Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.”
“Any attack on NATO will be met with a united and forceful response,” Stoltenberg added.
“NATO’s motto ‘one for all, all for one’ is a concrete commitment. Undermining the credibility of allied countries means weakening the entire NATO,” Polish Defence Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “No election campaign is an excuse for playing with the security of the Alliance.”
The German foreign ministry wrote on their English language account on X, “One for all and all for one,” and included the hashtag #StrongerTogether.
The president of the EU Council, Charles Michel, called Trump’s comments “reckless” and said they “serve only Putin’s interest.”
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