President Trump lashed out at "delinquent" NATO members as he again called on all members of the transatlantic alliance – particularly Germany – to spend 2% of GDP on defense spending. Speaking at a joint press conference with Polish president Andrzej Duda at the White House, Trump asserted that Poland was one of eight European NATO members to meet its financial commitments to the alliance, according to the Irish Times.
"The United States is defending a lot of countries that are delinquent in what they are supposed to be paying," the president said. Confirming that the US would be withdrawing troops from Germany, Trump claimed that Germany owed "close to a trillion dollars” to Nato "when you add it all up."
While he claimed that the US had secured an extra $400 billion in new spending from NATO members, he said “we will be only satisfied when all members are paying their fair share”.
"The United States is the major participant [in Nato],” he said. “We defend Europe, but Europe also takes tremendous advantage of the United States on trade – advantage like you wouldn’t believe."
Trump also confirmed that the US would “probably” going to be sending troops to Poland from Germany, noting that the number of US military personnel in Germany would reduce from 52,000 to 25,000, as previously reported . “Some will be coming home, some will be going to other places in Europe. Poland will be one of the places," he said. He added that Poland would be paying for the troops to be stationed there, while he also praised Poland for the purchase of 32 F35 fighter jets.
Trump's comments came after Duda told reporters he had asked the US not to remove troops from Europe at all, arguing that their presence was needed to guarantee security for Poland and other nations against the threat of "Russian aggression." The US has had a military presence in Germany since the end of WWII and while talks with Poland about a permanent US base there have not been successful, Duda has been keen for an additional US military presence on a rotational basis.
Moscow has denounced Poland's calls for US presence as irresponsible, and the country's new security strategy claiming a threat from Russia as "propagandist" and fictitious. "Whatever military potentially ends up threatening us from Polish territory," Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov told RIA Novosti earlier this month, Russia "will take comprehensive measures in response."
President Duda, who faces an election on Sunday, was the first foreign leader to meet Trump at the White House since Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s visit in March. It is his fifth meeting with the US president. Trump praised Poland’s protection of its borders, and “vigilant efforts to uphold the rule of law”, an issue that has provoked fury in Brussels as Poland’s right-wing government has pushed through a series of laws its has deemed "anti-democratic." Trump also predicted that Duda would do very well in the election.
“He’s doing a terrific job. The people of Poland think the world of him…I don’t think he needs my help. He will do very well with or without us. He’s going to have a great success.”
Asked about the possibility of further police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death after Democrats blocked legislation put forward by the Republican-controlled Senate this week, Trump accused Democrats of wanting to defund the police.
“The Democrats want to weaken our police, take away our community….they want to take away a lot of strength from our police and law enforcement generally. We won’t do anything that’s going to hurt our police.”
Trump then pledged to issue an executive order on statues before the end of the week, although he said there were “very strong laws already on the books" which can lead to prison sentences of 10 years for those who desecrate monuments.
"Many people who are knocking down the statues don’t have any idea who the statue is….now they’re looking at Jesus Christ, they’re looking at George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson. Not going to happen while I’m here."
Earlier, during a meeting with Duda in the Oval Office, Trump accused the Obama administration of spying on his 2016 election campaign as he welcomed a court ruling ordering the dismissal of a case against his former national security adviser Michael Flynn. "What happened to General Flynn should never happen again,” Mr Trump said. “He was treated horribly by a group of very bad people."