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Trump again conditions US help to NATO allies on their paying 'fair share'

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Trump hosts a campaign rally, in Rome, Georgia

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reiterated that the United States would only help protect NATO members from a future attack by Russia if its European members spent more on defense.

In an interview with Britain's right-leaning GB News that was released on Tuesday, Trump repeated remarks that triggered an uproar both at home and abroad last month. He told a campaign rally that he would encourage Russia "to do whatever the hell they want" to a NATO member if it wasn't spending enough on defense.

In the interview with Trump ally and former British politician Nigel Farage, then former president again defended his recent remark that if he lost the election, there would be a "bloodbath," saying it applied to the American auto industry. And he again said he would deport migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

Trump has frequently taken aim at the failure of many of NATO's 32 members to meet a defense spending target of at least 2% of gross domestic product. The U.S. military forms the core of the alliance's military power. NATO estimates have shown that only 11 members are spending at the target level.

After Trump's February comments, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said he expected 18 allies to reach the spending target this year.

Defending his February comments, Trump said he did not care if his political opponents used them against him in the run-up to the Nov. 5 election, in which he will face Democratic President Joe Biden, a staunch supporter of NATO.

"I don't care if they use it," Trump said. "Because what I'm saying is a form of negotiation. Why should we guard these countries that have a lot of money and the United States was paying for most of NATO?," Trump said.

Asked if the U.S. would defend NATO allies if they started to "pay their bills properly," Trump said, "Yes. But the United States should pay its fair share, not everybody else's fair share."

"So if they start to play fair, America's there?" interviewer Nigel Farage asked.

"Yes. 100 percent," Trump replied.

AUTO INDUSTRY 'BLOODBATH,' DEPORTING UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS

In a speech on Saturday, Trump predicted a "bloodbath for the whole country" as he discussed placing tariffs on imported cars and foreign competition with the U.S. auto industry, provoking an outcry.

In Tuesday's interview, he said, "It's going to be a bloodbath, in the auto industry, because we're going to lose our whole industry, because this guy's (Biden) going to all-electric cars, and they're made in China, that's where the material is, that's where the minerals are, that's where everything is." Trump did not provide further details.

Asked about his immigration policy if he became president again, Trump reiterated he would deport migrants who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.

"You can come into the country, but you have to come in legally. They're here illegally, especially these criminals. I'm going to deport them. We're going to get them out right away," he said.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington)