Hillary Clinton: Trump ‘means what he says’ about withdrawing from NATO

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is predicting that former President Trump will make good on his repeated threats to withdraw from NATO if he wins reelection to a second White House term in November.

“Obvious point to make about Donald Trump is take him literally and seriously. He means what he says. People did not take him literally and serious in 2016,” said Clinton, who lost to Trump that year as the Democratic presidential nominee, while speaking Saturday at a panel at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Clinton’s remarks were part of a nearly seven-minute response to being asked if Europe “can still rely” on America.

“Now he is telling us what he intends to do and people who try to wish it away, rush it away, are living in an alternative reality. He will do everything he can to become an absolute authoritarian leader if given the opportunity to do so,” she added later. “And he will pull us out of NATO.”

She later warned the former president would pull the U.S. out of the alliance despite Congress’s recently passed legislation that prevents any president from withdrawing the U.S. from NATO without approval from the Senate or an act of Congress.

“Because he will just not fund our obligations. So we may be there, you know, ‘in name only,’” she said. “So take it very seriously and continue to do what Europe needs to do on its own.”

Trump sparked a fury of concerns earlier this month after his remarks about the alliance, which raised questions about what a second term for the former president could mean for NATO.

During a campaign rally earlier this month, Trump recalled an instance when a foreign leader questioned him about his threat not to defend members who do not hit the alliance’s defense spending targets.

“You didn’t pay?” Trump said he responded. “You’re delinquent. No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.”

The former president repeatedly pressed member nations to commit 2 percent of their gross domestic product to defense spending. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at least half of the 31-member alliance is expected to meet that figure in 2024, which is up from seven members in 2022.

He also emerged as a frequent critic of NATO and threatened on numerous occasions to withdraw from the alliance while in the White House.

The Trump campaign did not mince words when responding Tuesday to Clinton’s criticism.

“Hillary Clinton is irrelevant, and nobody takes her seriously because she is a loser and washed up candidate struggling with Trump Derangement Syndrome,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung wrote in a statement to The Hill.

Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio), a staunch Trump ally who also spoke at the conference, argued Europe is not doing enough to ensure its defense. He pushed back on the argument Trump will “abandon Europe” and said the remarks were simply a “wake-up call” to Europe.

The Ohio Republican contended America is not looking to pull out of NATO or abandon Europe, but he suggested the U.S. should shift its focus to East Asia and called on European allies to “step up.”

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