Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Arrives Late to Meeting on Russian Aggression; Trump Announces Increased Financial Commitment from NATO Members. Aired 6- 6:30a ET
Aired July 12, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States is paying far too much, and other countries are not paying enough.
[05:58:53] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States doesn't spend 4 percent of GDP on defense.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm looking at the results. NATO is stronger today than last week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I see leadership trying to break apart alliances, it troubles me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. president arriving in the U.K.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We'll be talking positively about how we can continue to work together for the good of people living in the U.K. and the United States.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, July 12. I'm John Berman, live in a very, very sad London this morning. Alisyn's in New York, John Avlon, there as well.
I swear, I'm the only one smiling here this morning. Nothing but heartbreak after England's crushing World Cup loss. This is on the front page of every paper. Very sad people about this.
But there's a tidal wave of news beyond that. President Trump arrives in two hours from his eventful NATO meeting in Brussels. And eventful is a euphemism. Diplomatic mayhem is more like it.
I want to show you the picture of the morning.
This is --
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, I'll take it from here, John, because you're having audio issues. This is President Trump arriving at the -- his second day of meeting
with NATO leaders. Guess why this meeting was scheduled? It was to address Russian aggression. It does not look as if he president was in any rush to get there. He was late, in fact. It's having an effect, an impact across Europe. One former British official that John will speak with shortly says it is hard to overestimate just how despised, is the word they used, President Trump is over there.
So big protests are planned with this enormous balloon mocking President Trump flying overhead. President Trump will largely steer clear of London, perhaps to avoid the protests. But he will meet with the embattled British prime minister and have tea with the queen.
President Trump continues to criticize U.S. allies, saying the U.S. is, quote, "paying too much to subsidize Europe," end quote.
So let's begin our coverage of this very busy day. We have CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She is live in Brussels. What is the latest there, Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, it's been quite the 24 hours. This morning, the president tweeting his grievances at NATO and those U.S. allies from afar and making clear that he was in no rush to get to day two of the summit, showing up 30 minutes after day two of NATO was well under way.
COLLINS (voice-over): President Trump arriving late for the final day of the NATO summit after once again slamming allies for not spending enough on defense and singling out Germany specifically.
TRUMP: Germany, as far as I'm concerned, is captive to Russia.
COLLINS: The president now demanding that countries double their defense spending to 4 percent of their GDP despite how most have failed to meet the goal of 2 percent.
TRUMP: I think that these countries have to step it up. Not over a 10-year period. They have to step it up immediately.
COLLINS: One senior European diplomat telling CNN that President Trump's combative performance at the summit was beyond belief, adding, "It's like the world has gone crazy."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejecting President Trump's claim that Germany is captive Russia.
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I myself lived through a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union, and I am very happy that today we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany.
COLLINS: In front of the cameras, President Trump touting his relationship with Merkel.
TRUMP: We have a very, very good relationship.
COLLINS: And laughing off his criticism of her during a meeting with the French president, Emanuel Macron.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Macron, do you agree that Angela Merkel is beholden to the Russians?
TRUMP: I'm glad they're asking you that question. Thank you, thank you very much.
EMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: No.
COLLINS: On Capitol Hill outgoing Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, Republican Bob Corker, expressing concern.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Sometimes, it feels like we -- we punch our friends in the nose and hold our hand out to people that are working strongly against us. When I see that leadership diminishing and us trying to break apart alliances that we created, it troubles me.
COLLINS: Most Republicans hesitating to criticize the president directly, but sending a message by sending a near-unanimous resolution expressing support from the NATO alliance.
RYAN: I subscribe to the view that we should not be criticizing our president while he's overseas. But let me say a couple of things. NATO is indispensable. It's as important today as it ever has been.
COLLINS: Despite President Trump's brazen rhetoric, British Prime Minister Theresa May asserting, "There is no stronger alliance than the special relationship between the United States and the U.K."
President Trump heading to London today after undercutting May over the ongoing revolt within her party.
TRUMP: I have the U.K., which is in somewhat turmoil.
COLLINS: Trump praising Boris Johnson after he resigned as May's foreign secretary, in protest of her Brexit plan.
TRUMP: Boris Johnson is a friend of mine. He's been very, very nice to me, very supportive. And maybe we'll speak to him when I get over there.
COLLINS: Prime Minister May is rolling out the red carpet for the president during his two-day visit, although most of the events will take place outside of London, where large protests of the president are expected.
President Trump has angered Brits with his inflammatory retweets of a far-right U.K. group and his bashing of London's Muslim mayor.
COLLINS: Now John, there is a lot going on at the NATO headquarters this morning. The president is about to make an impromptu statement. This was not planned, and reporters are being rushed into a briefing room there at the NATO headquarters. So the president is going to make a statement. If it's anything like his tweets this morning, it is going to be combative in tone of what we have seen from him so far. We are waiting to hear from the president, and we will get back to you as soon as he makes this statement, John.
[06:05:08] BERMAN: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.
And we do have live pictures from NATO headquarters right now. President Trump is expected to speak any moment. Again, this is breaking news. This was not scheduled. President Trump will make a statement, we think maybe take questions.
This follows what has been reported as an emergency session called by the secretary-general of NATO, an emergency session, apparently to discuss some of the complaints that President Trump has made over the last 24 hours about NATO members not spending enough on their own defense, going after Germany by name.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, we understand, just herself held a news conference moments ago, where she said, yes, she expects and wants Germany to do more on behalf of NATO. But the meeting that they just had, she said it was an intense discussion.
So, as you can see, something going on in Brussels. We'll get much more of a read on it from the president shortly. In the meantime, I'm joined by CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.
Nic, any sense of what happened behind closed doors?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: John, I've got to say, there's been a real buzz about this place in the past about an hour and a half when rumors started coming out that something wasn't going according to plan.
The best I've been able to get from the NATO officials I've spoken to this morning is that that North Atlantic Council meeting, the leaders meeting of all 29 NATO members, President Trump of course being among them there, was supposed to talk about Afghanistan. And the read I've been given is that it has gone on to other topics. As I was told it, President Trump doesn't want to talk about Afghanistan, and they're not going to talk about Afghanistan.
And it does appear that it has focused on President Trump's desire to get that 2 percent of GDP defense -- spent on defense spending, that commitment to NATO that all countries are supposed to measure up to by 2024. It does appear to be at this stage, and I say appear to be, as we need to hear from the president and from others, about accelerating that deadline. And this is what President Trump has been alluding to in his tweets this morning.
So as I say, a complete buzz here, because this NATO summit has gone completely off the tracks, completely swerved away from the direction that it was heading in today. There have been communicated, there have been agreed there were 12 or 13 points on that communique was handed out last night. That was expected to be signed off on.
I've -- I've heard from different delegations that this had been the pre-planning, pre-preparation had gone much better than it had at the NATO summit in Wales in 2014, much better than the NATO summit and the Warsaw summit in 2016. This has gone a complete turnabout. And we don't know where it's going to end up. We don't know, has it come off the tracks or has it gone down a different track?
We will expect to hear that from the president. Perhaps, I think, the best thing to say at the moment is, you know, when President Trump arrived half an hour late this morning, that was our first indication today that things weren't right. And as we look at what happened at the G-7 in Canada, in Quebec, President Trump also turned up late there that morning, the last morning. Turned up late, and then things really went off the rails there. We're waiting to see what happens here, John.
BERMAN: All right. Nic Robertson for us in Brussels.
As Nic said, this NATO meeting this morning completely off the rails. And if we have that picture again, I would like to show it to you. President Trump showed up about a half an hour late to this meeting that was scheduled for this morning. The meeting, among other things, was designed to talk about Russian aggression in Ukraine and Georgia.
You can see the president walking in here, in no apparent rush to attend this meeting to discussion Russian aggression. Not rushing in. Maybe he didn't want to talk about it at all. Because our understanding now from Nic is the focus changed from that and Afghanistan, apparently to the president's ongoing complaints about military spending.
We're expecting to hear from the president very shortly. We will bring that to you live when it happens.
Nic Robertson is still with me.
And joining me here in London is Alastair Campbell, former spokesman for former prime minister, Tony Blair.
It's great to have you with us here this morning. You're watching this alongside us right now, but it is across the channel, what's happening in Brussels. It's extraordinary. This NATO meeting was scheduled for a number of things, but it has been, for lack of a better word, hijacked by President Trump and seems to be exclusively focused on the issue of defense spending.
ALASTAIR CAMPBELL, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: Well, you say extraordinary, but it's actually all of a piece with what he's done whenever he's been subjected to these international gatherings which clearly, he hates. Our sense of him now is clearly somebody who prefers the kind of one-on-one, strong man to strong man leader. That's why I think he prefers being in the company of Vladimir Putin and even Kim Jong-un, rather than somebody like Angela Merkel or -- or Theresa May or Emanuel Macron or any of the other leaders who are gathered there now.
[06:10:09] And I think that we just have to come to terms with the fact -- I think the world is really struggling to come to terms with the fact that this is somebody who does not do government and does not do diplomacy in a way that any of the others have ever been used to with most other leaders.
Now, you might have been able to deal with it when it's a kind of -- an established dictatorship, as you were, if you like. But when it's a country that most countries around the world look to for leadership and Democratic values, I think it's -- I think it's a real danger for the world, and I think the way he conducts himself is a real danger for the world.
BERMAN: You said we have to come to terms with it. I think you're talking about the world here. But specifically about the U.K. You said it is hard to overestimate how much he is despised here.
Is that really the sentiment on the streets in this city? And do you believe that's the sentiment throughout much of western Europe?
CAMPBELL: I think if you go -- you'll always find some people who will say -- you do hear people saying, I think, "He's right, he calls out the truth. He says it as it is." Which I don't think is true, by the way, not the least yesterday when he completely misrepresented the position on Russian energy supply into Germany, for example.
But I think the general feeling in Britain is one of absolute horror that he's the president of the United States. As I said, there's nothing we can do about that. He is the president of the United States, and it's very difficult for the politicians and the government ministers who are over there having to kind of deal with the United States and a government -- at a government level. It's very, very difficult.
Everything that they've planned -- you heard there from your reporter that, you know, it was -- all the planning went well. All the Sherpa work went well. There was a sense of agreement about where it's going.
But I was talking to one of your colleagues from one of the American newspapers recently, who said that you have to understand about Donald Trump, he's a very proudly ignorant man. He doesn't like to be briefed. He doesn't like to read books. He doesn't like to get himself immersed in detail. He goes on his instinct.
BERMAN: Let me tell you this, though. He did come to this meeting with the goal of getting the other NATO members to pay more.
BERMAN: And it's something that he has succeeded in doing over the last year, where other U.S. presidents have failed.
CAMPBELL: He has a point. He has a point.
BERMAN: And he has had some success, correct?
CAMPBELL: We don't know yet. We don't know yet.
BERMAN: Well, but some nations have increased it.
CAMPBELL: But they're -- they're saying the right things.
But my point is that I think that, yes, he can say that. But when I talked about having to come to terms with something, we have normally, whether it's been Democrat or Republican, we've usually been able to have the sense of being able to deal constructively and honestly with American presidents and American senior politicians down the years. Even when things have been very, very difficult.
But I think that there's a tense here that you cannot actually rely on him day to day, so that Theresa May will have planned this meeting, his coming here and, you know, you guys are now preset to expect the unexpected. That's the way that he operates.
Now, he has a point. He does have a point about defense spending. The question is whether that point is best met in the way that he conducts himself, and I for one don't think that it is.
BERMAN: But we continue to watch. You see that podium three. The president will speak in just moments, following what we are told was a contentious meeting that went off the rails at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Some people are calling this an emergency session to discuss the president's demands.
Our Nic Robertson is there. I'm here with Alistair Campbell in London. The president arrives here in just two hours.
And Nic, to you, it is interesting, as brusque as the president has been, as unexpected and caustic as some of his rhetoric has been, the leaders in Europe, the leaders of NATO aren't exactly standing up to him. Why?
ROBERTSON: Because they haven't faced this challenge before. They've talked about it. If we go back to the beginning of 2017, there was an emergency meeting of leaders of the E.U. leaders in Malta that was called. And Angela Merkel and at that time Francois Mitterrand, the French president, both said at different points through those couple of days that Europe needed to look to itself, that it couldn't rely on the United States anymore. And we continue to hear that as recently as the past few weeks ago from Angela Merkel. We continue to hear that same narrative. But they are still, frankly, figuring it out. They haven't had to deal with somebody like this.
The United States, for all these NATO allies and for the European Union, too, has been the pole that's kept up the tent. What do you do when that pole starts shaking? If you're one of the pegs on the edge of the tent, what do you do about it? You've got to get together with all the other pegs and figure out what -- how to keep the tent aloft.
I think what we're seeing here, John, I get this sense now, is an absolute rerun of the G-7/Kim Jong-un playbook. Showing up late on the last morning. The making those last-minute demands.
And what is the real message here? The message when he left -- and we were told this after was when he -- I can't remember which advisor said this. But after he left the G-7 meeting, refusing to sign the communique, we were told that President Trump couldn't appear to be weak going into his summit with Kim Jong-un.
[06:15:12] Well, what is happening here? President Trump will leave here, a few days in the U.K., playing a little golf over the weekend, meeting President Putin on Monday. Is this partly President Trump wanting to have that very clear, strong personal message to President Putin that he brooks no trouble. He is not afraid to stare down 28 allies. So will he stare him down?
Of course, the message that NATO feels that President Trump may be sending right now is one of disunity. Completely the wrong message to send to President Putin, who enjoys seeing disarray in Europe and amongst NATO, a species of threat to him, John.
BERMAN: I think it's crystal clear, as we sit here on the second morning of the NATO summit, the president wanted to make a scene. He arrived there in Brussels the very first breakfast. During the appetizers, that is when he confronted the NATO secretary-general about German spending on Russian energy That is when he first brought up the issue of defense spending in this arrival in Brussels. And today showing up late to the meeting he was supposed to attend. Very clearly, the president wanted to send a message.
We're two minutes away, we're told right now, from the president speaking in Brussels. Alastair Campbell here with me in London.
The president makes a point directly. He says, "You need us more than we need you" when it comes to NATO and Europe. Is that true?
CAMPBELL: Well, it's an international alliance. And America was the biggest component part of that. But don't forget, I think the last time that Article V was invoked was when -- it was America that was attacked.
BERMAN: The only team.
CAMPBELL: Yes, exactly.
So I think that -- look, he just gives a sense of someone who's about himself in the moment all the time. No sense of history, no sense of real strategy.
Now, I could be wrong. OK? I don't know the guy well, but I do think the world is kind of seeing somebody now at a time where there are so many parallels out there with the Thirties. I think there's a real concern about the direction of travel that he wants to take.
This "America First" policy and where it's going, and his -- frankly, his contempt for anybody, whether it's in America or it's in the rest of the world, who doesn't fit that sort of sense of what he thinks -- BERMAN: How -- how much should these European leaders, how much
should Theresa May, who'll be meeting with him later today and tonight, how much should she take? Where will she draw the line?
JOHNSON: That's a very, very good question. And I think -- I've just been reading Madeleine Albright's book about the history of fascism. And I think a lot of the powers that the western powers really made big mistakes in terms of tolerate -- tolerance, of actually not calling out values when they're wrong.
I don't think you saw that with Macron. I mean, I've got a lot of respect for Macron. But the fact is, I think he should have said there, "No, I don't agree with what he said about Germany, because it's not true."
BERMAN: He said, "No, no." He was asked directly --
CAMPBELL: He said, "No, no." Fine.
BERMAN: -- about Germany, and he said, "No, no."
CAMPBELL: I think you have to call this stuff out. And I'm -- you know, I'm not by nature a kind of protesting, placard-raising person.
BERMAN: The thing is, though --
CAMPBELL: There will be protests here.
BERMAN: There will be protests here. There's no question about that. And there will be balloons flying overhead.
But you say call it out. The thing about President Trump that we get used to when we're covering him, is that some of the most caustic things he says, there is an element of truth, as you say, in the defense spending among NATO members.
CAMPBELL: Yes. China.
BERMAN: You say it's an issue. China trade. There are real problems.
Go back decades there.
BERMAN: There is this German energy deal with Russia, that people have complained about across Europe and the world for a long time.
CAMPBELL: Right. To make a point, but I give you -- we're right next to St. Thomas' Hospital. This is the hospital that Trump talked about recently. He's got this fixation on the London mayor, Sadiq Khan. And he talked about this hospital as being flowing with blood because of everyone's going around London stabbing each other the whole time.
Make a point but don't lie and don't exaggerate to the point where I think you lose your argument. Now, and I think for him -- I don't think he cares what we think. I don't think he cares what British people think. He cares about himself in the moment.
BERMAN: Well, he says he cares about Pittsburgh, not Paris.
CAMPBELL: Fair enough.
BERMAN: Or Piccadilly, if you will in this case.
CAMPBELL: He -- he -- he -- America, people look to America for leadership. If he wants to vacate that leadership, and it looks like it, if he wants to vacate that leadership, fine.
But it does mean that other countries will start to have to look around. And I'll tell you something. That is why the Brexit debate in this country, I think, is actually still so unsettled.
We talk about not -- not knowing a lot --
BERMAN: I'm told that President Trump is arriving very shortly. I don't see him there. The minute he arrives was that microphone, we'll send it there. Go ahead.
CAMPBELL: Let me finish this point. I think on Brexit, we are leaving the European Union at a time --
BERMAN: All right. Here he is. Here's President Trump.
TRUMP: -- a lot with respect to NATO. For years, presidents have been coming to these meetings and talked about the expense, the tremendous expense for the United States. And tremendous progress has been made. Everyone has agreed to substantially up their commitment. They're going to up it at levels that they've never thought of before.
Prior to last year where I attended my first meeting, it was going down, the amount of money being spent by countries was going down and down very substantially. And now it's going up very substantially. And commitments were made.
Only five of 29 countries were making their commitment, and that's now changed. The commitment was at 2 percent. Ultimately, that will be going up quite a bit higher than that.
So we are -- we made a tremendous amount of progress today. It's been about, at a minimum, they estimate -- and they're going to be giving you exact numbers -- but since last year they've raised an additional $33 billion. That's been put up by the various countries, not including the United States.
And the United States' commitment to NATO is very strong, remains very strong, but primarily because everyone, the spirit they have, the amount of money they're willing to spend, the additional money that they will be putting up has been really -- really amazing to see it. To see the level of spirit in that room is incredible.
And I hope that we're going to be able to get along with Russia. I think that we probably will be able to. The people in the room think so, but they nevertheless, they really stepped up their commitment, and stepped it up like they never have before.
So we took in an additional $33 billion -- the number could actually be higher than 40, when they give you the final number. Secretary- General Stoltenberg will be giving those numbers sometime today, probably in his concluding press statement.
But we are -- we are doing numbers like they've never done before or ever seen before, and you'll be seeing that. And I guess you'll be hearing that a little bit later.
OK. We have our secretary of state, as you know, and we have -- John is here, so if you have any questions for the three of us. Mike Pompeo just got back from a third trip, as you know, to North Korea. He's become a true expert on the trips to North Korea, the best way to get there. The best way to get out. And he gets along well, and he's doing a great job over there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
TRUMP: I told people that I would be very unhappy if they didn't up their commitments very substantially, because the United States has been paying a tremendous amount, probably 90 percent of the cost of NATO. And now people are going to start -- and countries are going to start upping their commitment.
So I let them know. Yesterday, actually, I was surprised that you didn't pick it up, it took till today. But yesterday, I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening, and they have substantially upped their commitment. And now we're very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO. Much stronger than it was two days ago.
Yes, ma'am. Yes, hi. How are you?
I know. You're very famous on television.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) And do you think that your rhetoric helps NATO cohesion, or do you worry that people (UNINTELLIGIBLE). There are lot of people say that they're worried and stressed about what you did yesterday.
TRUMP: Well, they were probably worried because the United States was not being treated fairly. But now we are, because the commitment has been upped so much. So now they are.
And I was very firm yesterday. You have to understand, I know a lot of the people in the room. I was here last year. I let them know last year in a less firm manner but pretty firm, and they raised an additional $33 billion, I think going to $40 billion, but it's $33 billion as of today. And then today and yesterday I was probably a little bit more firm.
But I believe in NATO. I think NATO is a very important, probably the greatest ever done. But the United States was paying for anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of it, depending on where you calculated. That's not fair to the United States.
In addition to that, as you know, we're in negotiations with the E.U., and we're going to be meeting with them next week. We've been treated very unfairly on trade. Our farmers have been shut out of the European Union. Now you could say they're different, but basically to a large extent, they're the same countries.
So I think we're going to be ultimately treated fairly on trade. We'll see what happens. But I can tell you that NATO now is really a fine-tuned machine. People are paying money that they never paid before, and they're happy to do it. And the United States is being treated much more fairly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "CBS News Hour." Did you win any concessions in your meeting and discussions with the German chancellor when it comes to German defense spending and also this issue of purchasing energy from Russia?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And secondly, what would you say to your critics that say by creating this scene here at NATO, you're only enabling President Putin in Russia to further disturb things in Ukraine and Georgia?
[06:25:12] TRUMP: Well, if you consider putting up tremendously, you know, additional funds at a level that nobody's ever seen before, I don't think that's helping Russia.
I think that NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago. I think that NATO was not doing what they were supposed to be doing, a lot of the countries. And we were doing much more than we should have been doing. Frankly, we were carrying too much of a burden. That's why we call it burden sharing. I was using the term a lot today. Burden sharing.
We had a fantastic meeting at the end. Twenty-nine countries. And they are putting up a lot. Germany has increased very substantially their time period. And Germany's coming along. And we still have to figure out what's going on with the pipeline, because the pipeline is coming in from Russia. So we're going to have to figure that out.
I brought it up. Nobody brought it up but me, and we all are talking about it now. And actually, I think the world is talking about it now, maybe more than anything else. But we're going to figure that out.
But -- and frankly, maybe everybody's going to have a good relationship with Russia. So there will be a lot less problems with the pipeline. But to me, that was a very major point of contention. We discussed it at length today. Germany has agreed to do a lot better than we were doing. And we're very happy with that. We had a very good relationship with Angela Merkel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President.
TRUMP: Yes, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, thank you. Margaret Talev from Bloomberg.
TRUMP: Yes. After all these years, I know, Margaret. Go ahead.
TALEV: Thank you. Maybe I'm being dense here, but could you just clarify, are -- are you still threatening to potentially pull the United States out of NATO for any reason? And do you believe you can do that without Congress's explicit support and approval?
TRUMP: I think I probably can, but that's unnecessary. And the people have stepped up today like they've never stepped up before. And remember the word, $33 billion more they're paying. And you'll hear that from the secretary-general in a little while. He thanked me, actually. He actually thanked me, and everybody in the room thanked me. There's a great collegial spirit in that room that I don't think they've had in many years. They're very strong. So yes, very unified, very strong. No problem.
TALEV: NATO, No -- OK.
TRUMP: No problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President --
TRUMP: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jonathan Lamir (ph) with the Associated Press.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said previously you wanted the countries to step up their spending to 2 percent. Yesterday, the suggestion might be 4 percent, or perhaps 2 percent in a much quicker time table. Can you clarify, what did they commit to doing? Is that satisfactory to you?
TRUMP: What they're doing is spending at a much faster clip. They're going up to the 2 percent level.
Now, you have to understand, some of them have parliaments. They have their own congresses. They have a lot of things they have to go through. So, you know, they're here as a prime minister or, say, president and they can't necessarily go in and say, "This is what we're going to do." But they're going back for approvals. Some are at 2 percent. Others have agreed definitely to go to 2 percent. And some are going back to get the approval and we say we'll get to go to 2 percent.
After 2 percent, we'll start talking about going higher. But I said ultimately, we should be, in years in advance, we should be at 4 percent. I think 4 percent is the right number. Now, the United States, depending on the way you calculate it, was at 4.2 percent. And I said, "That's unfair." And we have the largest GDP by far, especially since we've increased it by so much since a thing called the election. Our GDP has gone way up. And so the fact that our GDP went way up, that means we're paying for even more, which is very unfair.
So I explained that. We -- we will go to much higher than 2 percent into the future. But right now, we're getting people up to 2 percent, and that will take place over a fairly short period of time. A short number of years. OK?
Yes, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Thomas (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Croatian newspaper. We understand your message --
TRUMP: Congratulations, by the way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. We understand your message, but some people ask themselves, will you be tweeting differently once you board the Air Force One?
TRUMP: No, that's other people that do that. I don't. I'm very consistent. I'm a very stable genius. Go ahead.
Yes, go ahead.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, sir. Jeremy Diamond with CNN, how are you?
Quick question with regards to Germany and the comments that you made yesterday. Do you feel like, given the threats that you made about potentially leaving NATO, about insulting Germany's sovereignty, it appears, by suggesting they are totally controlled by Russia, do you feel like that's an effective way to conduct diplomacy? And secondly, would you be able to be a little bit more specific about the commitments that you secured today with regards to increasing financial commitment? Is there an updated timeline? Are there specific countries you could cite? Because a majority of them were already planning to meet that 2 percent threshold by 2024.