Former Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard says she supports former President Donald Trump’s position on NATO funding, following criticism he received for his remarks about the military alliance’s members not spending enough on defense.

Speaking during Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle“ on Feb. 19, the Democrat-turned-independent former congresswoman also criticized the Biden administration and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton along with other ”war and fear-mongers“ whom she said are working to ”distract the American people away from what’s actually happening.”

The 2020 presidential candidate praised President Trump for “talking about very real issues that the American people care about.”

“He’s talking about how Biden’s open borders are destroying our country. He’s talking about rising inflation. He’s talking about rampant crime in our streets. And now with NATO. He is forcing the American people and NATO members to be confronted with some very serious and important questions for us,” Ms. Gabbard said.

“What is the role of NATO? Does our membership in NATO serve our national security interests? And if it does, then how much are we the American people willing to put on the line in our taxpayer dollars and in American lives? And how much are these NATO members willing to put on the line in their money and the lives of their citizens?” she continued.

Ms. Gabbard went on to say that Americans should not be put in a position where they are expected to foot a large part of NATO funding while other members fail to meet funding requirements.

“They expect us to put up the lives of my brothers and sisters in uniform to protect them when they’re not even willing to do that for themselves,” she said.

Trump Questions NATO Defense Funding

Ms. Gabbard’s comments come as President Trump has faced increased scrutiny over remarks he made about the military bloc.

During his first term in office, President Trump often lambasted other NATO members who he said weren’t paying enough and questioned the collective defense principle under Article 5.

Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that an armed attack against an alliance member will be considered an attack against all members, triggering its right to take collective self-defense against the aggressor.

Speaking at a rally in Conway, South Carolina, earlier this month, President Trump also recounted what he claimed was a conversation with the head of a NATO member country that had not met its funding obligations.

President Trump said he told the NATO member head that the United States would not provide protection to members who failed to pay and were “delinquent.”

“No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay,” President Trump said in South Carolina.

EU Leaders, Biden Condemn Trump Remarks

Following the rally, President Trump took to social media where he said that more NATO members would contribute to defense spending if a strong U.S. leader compelled them to meet the minimum requirement, which is at least 2 percent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

However, his recent comments were widely criticized by European leaders and the Biden administration, with President Joe Biden stating that any individual who calls into question the durability of the Article 5 treaty “is a danger to our security.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said President Trump’s comments put American and European soldiers at “increased risk,” according to The Guardian.

Speaking to Fox News, Ms. Gabbard said it appears as though Democrats do not want to start a conversation questioning NATO member spending or why it takes President Trump to “try to pressure these countries into paying the bare minimum to maintain their membership” in the bloc.

“If they [NATO members] were really that concerned about Russia invading their countries and the safety, security, and well-being of their citizens, don’t you think that they would be lining up and making these investments in their own security and putting themselves on the line to defend themselves? the former congresswoman said.

“This is a harsh reality that we need to be confronted with here in our own country, and these NATO members need to be confronted with [it] as well,” Ms. Gabbard concluded.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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