IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Hillary Clinton warns Trump will seek to withdraw U.S. from NATO if elected

The former secretary of state urged delegates at the Munich Security Conference to take the former president “literally and seriously” as he seeks a second term.
Donald Trump
Donald Trump at a rally at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C., on Feb. 10.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Saturday that former President Donald Trump will seek to withdraw the U.S. from NATO if he wins a second term in the White House.

In remarks during a lunchtime panel at the Munich Security Conference, Clinton urged delegates to take Trump “literally and seriously” as he seeks re-election.

“We have a long struggle ahead of us, and the obvious point to make about Donald Trump is take him literally and seriously,” she said.

“He means what he says,” she continued. “People did not take him literally and seriously in 2016. Now he is telling us what he intends to do, and people who try to wish it away, brush it away, are living in an alternative reality.”

Clinton, who unsuccessfully ran against Trump in the 2016 presidential election, also warned Saturday that the former president will seek to “pull us out of NATO.”

“He will do everything he can to become an absolute authoritarian leader if given the opportunity to do so. And he will pull us out of NATO even though the Congress passed a resolution saying that he couldn’t without congressional support, because he will just not fund our obligations,” she said.

Trump has come under fire for recent comments he made about not protecting NATO countries, saying during a rally in South Carolina that he would let Russia “do whatever the hell they want” if it attacked a NATO country that was late on payments to the alliance.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., last week said that U.S. “credibility is at stake” with each of its alliances, including NATO, in response to Trump’s disparaging remarks.

“This year is the 75th anniversary of NATO,” Brown said in an interview with NBC “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt last week. “And I think we have a responsibility to uphold those alliances. U.S. credibility is at stake with each of our alliances, and U.S. leadership is still needed, wanted and watched.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, however, said he is “confident” that the U.S. will “remain a strong ally and committed ally” regardless of the outcome of the November presidential election.

“Because it is in the U.S. security interest to have a strong NATO. It is strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress and for NATO. And the criticism has been mainly about NATO allies not spending enough on NATO,” he said in an interview with Sky News last week.

President Joe Biden and his campaign have blasted Trump’s comments about NATO. The president decried Trump’s NATO remarks as “dangerous” and “un-American.”

“The former president has sent a dangerous, and shockingly, frankly, un-American signal to the world. Just a few days ago, Trump gave an invitation to Putin to invade some of our NATO allies,” Biden said in remarks from the White House last week.

Trump views NATO as a “burden” and “doesn’t see the alliance that protects America and the world,” Biden added.

In a new ad released Friday, Biden’s re-election campaign criticized Trump’s association with Putin and slammed his “traitorous comments” on NATO.

“No president has ever said anything like it,” the narrator says in the ad, shared first with NBC News, referring to Trump’s comments on NATO.

“It’s shameful. It’s weak. It’s dangerous. It’s un-American,” the narrator added, doubling down on Biden’s remarks last week.

Article 5 of the NATO treaty mandates that if one member nation comes under attack, other members will come to its defense. Thus far, the clause has only been invoked after the 9/11 attack, when the U.S. asked other NATO countries to help it in its response.