I went to meet the leaders of the folks that run NATO, all of the leaders of NATO, and they weren’t paying their bills. They were delinquent. I love real estate. When someone does not pay rent, you say they are delinquent. You’ve go to pay your rent.
I met them last year. Stoltenberg, Secretary General, great guy, of NATO. Big fan. No one was paying their bills. Last year I went, a year ago. We picked up $44 billion. Nobody reports it. I just left recently and we’re going to pick up at least another, close to a $1 billion extra. I said to him, “you got to pay your bills.”
The United States is paying close to 90% of the costs of protecting Europe. I think that is wonderful. I said to Europe, I said, “folks, NATO is better for your than it is for us.” Believe me. Small countries, big countries, all these countries we are supposed to protect them. I said, “look, it is very simple. You got to pay out. You got to pay your bill.”
Someone said, “Sir!” Someone calls me Sir, that that shows me respect. He says, “would you leave us if we don’t pay our bills?” They hated my answer. I said, “Yeah, I would consider it.” They hated the answer Michael Powell. But if I said, “No, I won’t leave you. I promise you we will always protect you.” Then they will never pay their bills. So I said, “Yes, I will leave you.” You could see those checkbooks coming out for billions of dollars. They paid their bills. I think we will pick up in the next short while over $100 billion.
Then they said, the fake news, they said, “President Trump treated the [NATO nation leaders]” – in brackets, I put brackets, who have been ripping us off – “President Trump treated NATO leaders with tremendous contempt and disrespect.” I said, “No, they disrespected our country because they weren’t paying.” Now they are paying.
How about if we got into a conflict because a country was attacked? Now we are in World War III and protecting a country that wasn’t paying its bills.
So I got them to pay $100 billion, though it’s going to be much more than that. But a tremendous amount of money. They are paying up. Then they made the statement that I showed great disrespect. Actually, I have a great relationship with all of those people. 28 people, all of them. We have a great relationship. Now they respect us. They respect our country again. They didn’t respect our country. They didn’t respect our country.
Excerpt from remarks by President Donald Trump in Charleston, West Virgnia, August 21, 2018.