Trump began his news conference at the end of the NATO summit in Belgium on Thursday with a blatant lie about what percentage of the alliance’s funding the United States covers.
“The United States has been paying a tremendous amount — probably 90 percent of the cost of NATO,” Trump said. “So I let [other countries] know… that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening, and they have substantially upped their commitment, yeah, and now we’re very happy, and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO — much stronger than it was two days ago.”
Trump’s claim about the United States paying “probably 90 percent of the cost of NATO” is egregiously false. The United States, which spends more than twice as much on defense as the second biggest-spending country in the world (China), currently covers about 22 percent of the cost of NATO.
But Trump’s lie about NATO illustrates how he uses repetition to launder false claims. Before he left for the NATO summit on Monday, Trump tweeted that “By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO.”
…Europe far more than it does the U.S. By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitment. On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
It’s unclear where Trump got this fake percentage from. But instead of correcting his false information, Trump repeated the lie on Thursday. Meanwhile, Fox News is spreading false information about U.S. contributions to NATO that echoes Trump’s talking point.
.@FoxNews graphic shows entire U.S. defense budget, $706B, is designated as "Contributions to NATO in 2018"
— Bad Fox Graphics (@BadFoxGraphics) July 12, 2018
“If you ask [NATO] Secretary General [Jens] Stoltenberg, he gives us total credit — meaning me, I guess, total credit, because I said it was unfair,” he said.
Despite the 2014 agreement, on Wednesday, the Trump administration abruptly requested that NATO member nations double their defense spending target from the current 2 to 4 percent.
Later during his news conference, Trump indicated he hopes NATO members will use their increased military expenditures to buy American equipment, which he described as “so much better than anybody else’s.”