Trump scolds NATO allies for not paying their fair share

President says 23 of 28 nations aren't spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense; reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," May 25, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Twenty three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they're supposed to be paying for their defense. This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States. And many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years.

Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined. And I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost. I refuse to do that, but it is beautiful.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, it cost roughly $1.3 billion they say, maybe up to $1.6 billion. As you take a look at the map of NATO countries, the red countries are 0 to 1 percent of their GDP paid, yellow countries 1 to 2 percent, and the green countries 2 percent or above. Two percent or above is what they pledged to pay.

And this has been an ongoing battle with NATO. In fact, here's former Defense Secretary Bob Gates.


ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the United States Congress and in the American body politic writ large to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense. Ultimately, nations must be responsible for their fair share of the common defense.


BAIER: Sounds familiar. Let's bring our panel: Jonah Goldberg, senior editor at National Review; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio; Fox News senior judicial analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano; and Mercedes Schlapp, columnist with The Washington Times.

Mara, what about today's message? If we look at the faces of those European leaders, they were - seemed to be snickering or appalled or one of the two?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, they didn't like it. I think that's fair to say. He scolded them. It was a public scolding.

And what's interesting about it is, obviously, he's not the first person who has done this. You just Gates say same thing. Obama complained about free-riders. He's totally within his rights. T

On the other hand, he was a little bit misleading when he said they owe the American taxpayers. By that definition, they also owe the Polish taxpayers, the Greek taxpayers and the British taxpayers and the Estonian taxpayers because those are the other countries that are paying their share.

BAIER: I think he was saying that the American taxpayer has been paying up for all these years and there are countries who haven't paid for many years.

LIASSON: That's right. But it's not a protection right. They don't pay us to protect them. They spend a certain amount on defense, so that they can all contribute to the common defense. On that one, he's within his rights.

I think that what the Europeans would've liked to hear in addition to that because they knew about that was a more ringing defense of Article V, which is an attack on one is an attack on all. He did mention it, but he didn't give them what they were hoping.

BAIER: Didn't talk a lot about Russia. This is the one part, getting tough. Take a listen.


TRUMP: We must be tough. We must be strong. And we must be vigilant. The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration as well as threats from Russia and on NATO's eastern and southern borders.


BAIER: So, that's what these NATO countries wanted to hear. They didn't really want to get slapped around.

LIASSON: Of course not. I think that it's in President Trump's right to be frustrated with these NATO members. When you think about that, you look at Germany, Canada, France, they're paying less than 2 percent.

And guess what, also there's no IRS for NATO, right? There's no one basically tracking this defense spending or basically saying you're obliged to pay, you need to pay now. So, his frustration is correct.

I think that there is a sense that, yes, they wanted to hear more because - on the sense of Russia and the possibility of attacks. That is very important, obviously, to those Eastern countries that are bordering Russia.

But I think the president is right to do this. I think President Obama said it in a different tone, basically saying that he was - these countries should chip away at paying for this defense of NATO.

At this point, I think it was in his right to go ahead and be forceful.

BAIER: Judge?

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS: For an American domestic political audience, this is a very, very popular argument for him to make and it's very well grounded, but I don't think it's going to work until he starts pulling troops out because that's the last thing that these NATO people want.

He's not going to pry the money loose from them that he wants to by his rhetoric. He can only do so by his words.

BAIER: The needle has moved, though, Jonah. Some of these countries have stepped up there and that is something that previous presidents haven't been able to do despite talking about it a lot.

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think Donald Trump was - this is one of these areas where his bluntness is actually long overdue and welcome because we've been trying to deliver this message very politely through - over clever cheese and fancy hotel meeting rooms and it's never really worked.

And now he's up there and he's like a bull in a China shop and he says, you guys have got to pony up, and I think it's worth doing. Look, I'm a big supporter of NATO, but we've basically been subsidizing Western Europe's welfare states for about 30 years and that's been one of the causes of Europe's problems and they need to sort of man up to use a phrase.

I do worry in one sense, though. Donald Trump is not popular in Europe. And just as we've seen in America Obamacare become more popular under Obama - I mean, under Trump and we've seen immigration and free trade become more popular under Trump, you could see there being a backlash against doing what Trump wants to do in Europe.

Unfortunately, European countries aren't all that democratic and their elites understand that they need us and maybe this will actually work.

BAIER: In the meantime, he did get an earful from the British Prime Minister Theresa May.


PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN THERESA MAY: We have a special relationship with the USA. It is our deepest defense and security partnership that we have. Of course, that partnership is built on trust. And part of that trust is knowing that intelligence can be shared confidently. And I will be making clear to President Trump today that intelligence that is shared between law enforcement agencies must remain secure.


BAIER: Soon after that statement, the administration put out something from President Trump. The alleged leaks coming out of the government agencies are deeply troubling. These, by the way, are leaks that went to The New York Times and other agencies.

"These leaks have been going on for a long time and my administration will get to the bottom of this. The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat for national security. I'm asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter. And if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

In one sense, Mara, this is lining up with what he's concerned about at home, which are leaks.

LIASSON: That's right. And these leaks were a little bit different from the other leaks. They don't seem to be leaks that were meant to undermine Donald Trump or embarrass him or show what kinds of outrageous things he might have said in a private meeting to a world leader.

These were leaks with an ongoing current law enforcement investigation in Manchester to try to find the bomber's accomplices. And the name of the bomber was released before British intelligence wanted it to be and police in Manchester decided to stop sharing intelligence with the United States. That's quite a breach for, as Theresa May said, the closest intelligence relationship in the world really.

NAPOLITANO: I don't think this is intelligence. I think it's evidence. And I think The New York Times and the NYPD and whoever and we know they're there and the FBI and whoever is there on the ground is absolutely entitled to discuss it. It's not classified. It's not even protected by any statute of which I'm aware.

The British culture and the British system is not to give progress reports during law enforcement. The American culture is to do that.

LIASSON: Why shouldn't we do what the British want us to do in this case?

GOLDBERG: Why shouldn't we publish whatever we find out about the truth?

BAIER: As we were talking, the British put out a statement saying they are resuming intelligence sharing, saying while we do not usually comment on information sharing arrangements, having received fresh assurances, we are now working closely with our key partners around the world, including all those in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which includes the US. Mercedes?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Well, I think, first of all, these leakers are becoming - this disturbing trend that we're seeing in the Trump administration where you have these leakers who - Mara, you said that it wasn't based specifically on pushing back on President Trump or weakening -

LIASSON: Like the other leaks.

SCHLAPP: Right. But I think it actually does. I think even by putting out this information, giving it to The New York Times, it really attacks - it weakens President Trump and his relationship with our key allies. So, I do think that that's a fundamental problem that we have.

Obviously, it is key to continue sharing intelligence information with our allies. It is one of the ways that we can stop terrorism. It is one of the ways that we can ensure that we have national security - our secrets kept in line as opposed to what we're seeing when you do see these leaks come out from the intelligence agencies.

BAIER: I want to talk about this other topic, which is the NSA and the FISA court. And these documents - we've been doing this story for the past two days. Really hasn't been picked up any place else. It was first covered by Circa News, in which, judge, the FISA court is harshly rebuking the Obama administration for essentially illegal searches on thousands of Americans and there's not a lot of outrage.

NAPOLITANO: It is astounding that there is not a lot of outrage. It's astounding that you have covered it more than the networks combined. And I don't understand that.

But I do understand that the FISA court has had an in-run (ph) run around it by NSA, that NSA has been doing massive amount of spying, surveilling, capturing every keystroke on every iPhone and every desktop and every phone call and all fiber optic cable in the United States that they can without telling the FISA court about it.

And the vast majority of it, involving tens of millions of Americans, maybe even hundreds of millions of Americans, is a profound violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Now, for the FISA court to rebuke NSA is almost a joke. There's no sting to the rebuke. There's no consequence to the government. And as horrific as this has been under Barack Obama, it started in 2005 under George W. Bush, and I'm sorry to tell you, it continues even up to the present moment under President Donald Trump.

BAIER: Jonah?

GOLDBERG: Yes. I have some disagreements with Judge Napolitano, but one of the things I like about Judge Napolitano is he's actually consistent. He's a civil libertarian. He doesn't like this stuff under Republicans and under Democrats.

I keep saying these days, if hypocrisy were helium, everyone would have funny voices and some people would just float away. If this had happened under George W. Bush, The New York Times would be out there, the editors would be pouring jerrycans of gasoline over themselves, setting themselves on fire and protest, the ACLU would be rioting.

At the same time, some of my friends on the right who aren't as civil libertarian will be saying, look, this is an unfortunate overreach, but this is an important program. It's necessary to keep us safe. And instead, there's a lot more outrage on the right than there normally would be.

I think the program is defensible. I think basically giving the middle finger to the FISA court is outrageous and the way they basically slow-walk this for years is outrageous. And if you want to reauthorize the 702 program, you better hold some people accountable because otherwise you play right into Judge Napolitano's hands and Rand Paul's hands and say, this is a program amok.

BAIER: But, Mara, this tracks with the same - the investigation about unmasking and the politics surrounding this FBI investigation. It's different in its scope, but it tracks it at the same time.

LIASSON: Yes. We have a big endemic, systemic problem with privacy and leaks and information that shouldn't be shared. And Congress is going to have to do something about it. It's one thing Donald Trump can track down these leakers and try to prosecute them and try.

But Congress is going to have to do something about it because this has been going on for a very long time. And even after Congress wanted it stopped. Remember? We thought this program was finished.

BAIER: Quickly.

SCHLAPP: This brings up the issue of Susan Rice that there's more questions that need to be answered than we know and we're not going to find out. Obviously, she was part of the unmasking of many of these Trump campaign officials.

It is problematic. They don't have an oversight structure in place and there is concern. I think for Americans out there, their issue of getting tapped or getting their information used by the NSA is problematic. It's incredibly problematic.

BAIER: And you wonder whether the scope of Bob Mueller's investigation goes down this road as well.

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